Creating user stories that are clear, concise, and valuable is crucial for successful project development. In this guide, we’ll explore the key elements of a good user story using the 3Cs (Card, Conversation, Confirmation) and INVEST (Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Small, Testable) principles. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a step-by-step understanding of how to structure user stories that lead to effective and efficient development cycles.

user story role action

Crafting Effective User Stories with 3Cs and INVEST

Let’s create a user story for a task management app.

User Story

As a busy professional, I want to easily prioritize and organize my tasks so that I can maximize my productivity.

Acceptance Criteria:

  1. Creation:
    • Conditions: The user must be logged into the app.
    • Criteria: The user can create a new task by providing a title, description, and due date.
  2. Categorization:
    • Conditions: A task must be created.
    • Criteria: The user can assign a category or label to the task (e.g., work, personal, urgent).
  3. Prioritization:
    • Conditions: A task must be created.
    • Criteria: The user can set a priority level for the task (e.g., high, medium, low).
  4. Sorting:
    • Conditions: Multiple tasks must be created.
    • Criteria: The user can sort tasks based on due date or priority level.
  5. Editing:
    • Conditions: A task must be created.
    • Criteria: The user can edit the title, description, due date, category, or priority of the task.
  6. Marking as Complete:
    • Conditions: A task must be created.
    • Criteria: The user can mark a task as complete, and it should be visually distinguished from incomplete tasks.
  7. Notifications:
    • Conditions: A due date must be set for a task.
    • Criteria: The user receives a notification when a task is due.

INVEST Criteria

invest guidelines

  1. Independent: Each functionality (creation, categorization, prioritization, sorting, editing, marking as complete, notifications) can be developed and tested independently.
  2. Negotiable: The details of the user story can be negotiated between the development team and the product owner based on priorities and constraints.
  3. Valuable: The user story delivers value by providing a comprehensive task management system, enabling users to organize, prioritize, and complete tasks efficiently.
  4. Estimable: The development team can estimate the effort required for each functionality within the user story.
  5. Small: Each functionality is focused and small enough to be completed in a single sprint.
  6. Testable: The acceptance criteria provide clear conditions that can be used to validate the completion of each functionality.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Login to the App:
    • Open the app.
    • Enter login credentials.
    • Click on the “Login” button.
  2. Create a New Task:
    • Click on the “New Task” button.
    • Enter the task title, description, and due date.
    • Click on the “Create” button.
  3. Categorize the Task:
    • Click on the created task.
    • Choose a category from the dropdown menu.
    • Click on the “Save” button.
  4. Set Task Priority:
    • Click on the created task.
    • Set the priority level (high, medium, low).
    • Click on the “Save” button.
  5. Sort Tasks:
    • Go to the main task list.
    • Click on the “Sort” button.
    • Choose to sort by due date or priority.
  6. Edit a Task:
    • Click on the task to edit.
    • Modify the title, description, due date, category, or priority.
    • Click on the “Save” button.
  7. Mark a Task as Complete:
    • Click on the task to mark as complete.
    • Click on the “Mark as Complete” button.
  8. Receive Notifications:
    • Ensure due dates are set for tasks.
    • Wait for notifications on the due date.

By following these steps, users can effectively manage their tasks, prioritize them, and stay on top of their deadlines.

Example: Good and Bad

Let’s create a user story about a user wanting to reset their password. We’ll compare a well-formed “confirm” user story with a poorly formed “not confirm” version.

Confirm User Story

Confirm User Story
Title: Reset Password
As a: Registered User
I want to: Reset my password
So that I can: Regain access to my account in case I forget my current password
Acceptance Criteria: 1. The user should be able to navigate to the “Forgot Password” page. <br> 2. The user should receive an email with a password reset link. <br> 3. Clicking on the reset link should take the user to a page where they can enter a new password. <br> 4. After successfully resetting the password, the user should be able to log in with the new password.

Reasons for being “Confirm”

  • The user story is clear and focused on the user’s need to reset their password.
  • It includes a well-defined user role (Registered User).
  • The acceptance criteria are specific, testable, and cover the entire password reset process.

Not Confirm User Story

Not Confirm User Story
Title: Password Reset Feature
As a: User
I want to: Have a better password reset feature
So that I can: Improve my experience with the app
Acceptance Criteria: 1. Users should be able to do a password reset.

Reasons for being “Not Confirm”

  • The user story lacks clarity on what specifically needs improvement in the password reset feature.
  • The user role is vaguely defined as “User,” making it unclear who the feature is intended for.
  • The acceptance criteria are too vague and don’t provide actionable steps for development and testing.
  • It doesn’t specify how the password reset should occur, what steps are involved, or what success looks like.

In the “Not Confirm” example, the lack of specificity in the user story and acceptance criteria makes it difficult for the development team to understand the user’s needs and deliver a satisfactory solution. It also makes testing and validation more challenging, as success criteria are not clearly defined.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ve delved into the art of crafting user stories that adhere to the 3Cs and INVEST principles. Whether you’re a product owner, developer, or part of an agile team, you now have the tools to create user stories that are not only well-structured but also bring tangible value to your projects. Remember, a well-crafted user story sets the foundation for successful collaboration and ensures that the end product meets the needs of its users.

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