What’s da Story? User Stories and UX

User Story, Narrative, News, Journey

We humans love stories.  Stories or narratives are how we process information and communicate with each other.  From the time of old, we are genetically predisposed to remember important information from our lives and the lives of our ancestors through the telling of stories.  It is how we pass on the learning.

With the advent of the written word and books our fascination with stories grew, allowing us access to new stories and characters.  Movies and TV brings the story even closer and seem more real.  We are given the opportunity to escape from our own story and become part of another world for a short while.  We have our own story and want to be part of others.

Stories define who we are and how we engage with the world around us.

The Story of User Experiences

Continuing on from my last blog about customer journeys where Hassenzahl describes user experiences in terms of user stories; he also talks about the consumer ‘story of usage’ with a beginning, an end and a structure.  He says that this is what we remember from the experience and what we communicate to others.  It is our reality.  When designing for stories, he considers three aspects:

  • What is important in stories ?
  • Are they individual or can we share them
  • How do you tell story through a product?

Benford too talks about UX in terms of stories and describes how users guide their own story but also that they become a character in a bigger story created by designers.  And that often there is a tension between the two.

People are drawn to stories that can identify with or what to be part of.  Stories evoke emotions and are about people and their journeys.


  • What story does your website or application communicate about you or your product?
  • Are the users playing a role they want to play or are you forcing something on them?
  • Does your website connect with your users’ stories and bring them on a journey that they want to be part of?
More reading at:

Hassenzahl, Marc (2011): User Experience and Experience Design. In:Soegaard, Mads and Dam, Rikke Friis (eds.). “Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction”. Aarhus, Denmark: The Interaction-Design.org Foundation. Available online at http://www.interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/user_experience_and_experience_design.html