User stories are easy to write, but difficult to write well. For example, a user story could be, “As a mom, I want to know the forecast so that I can dress my kids for school.” What’s wrong with that story? For one, it’s too ambiguous. What does “forecast” mean? If the developers came back with the answer “Today’s forecast is fair and sunny,” would that be be sufficient to help the mom? Perhaps she really wanted to know that it would be only 35 degrees today so that she knew when the kids got off the bus they would need coats and mittens. A better user story might have been, “As a mom, I want to know today’s low temperature so that I know what clothes my kids will need.”
Let’s say we get that part right. Now we need some acceptance criteria to let the developers know what I expect to see when the story is done. Ambiguity is the enemy here. What does “today’s low temperature” mean? Is it the low that occurred just before sunrise, or is it the low that will occur in the future. Depending upon what the purpose of the story is will determine which is meant. The power of the acceptance criteria is that it can change the results of the story. User Stories and Acceptance Criteria work together to form the picture of what is being requested.
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