Poetic User Story


Get students comfortable with using writing (even a single phrase or sentence!) as a starting point for design versus a visual reference as a starting point. 


Adapt the following to your own needs and class concepts.

The “Statement” exercise was derived from my workshop Living in the Interface, which was the conceptual foundation for the statements. In general, the statement should be a response to a general class concept or a reading, and should be formulated as self-written metaphors. The template of the statement can always be adapted.

What is most important is that the Statement is a poetic phrase, and the User Story is a full sentence.

Statement & Poetic User Story Exercise

Part 1: Statement

1. In small groups, co-write a “statement” in the form of a sentence fragment. 

2. Unless you have a different template, use the following: 

___[ACTION VERB]___ for ___[ADJ.+NOUN]___ in the interface 

Here is the template with examples from students:

GOSSIPING for ENJOYMENT in the interface

SCROLLING for FISHMEMORY in the interface 

See more statements here.

3. Have fun writing the statements. After writing, have each student present the statement they have written. 

Part 2: Poetic User Story

Convert the statement you’ve written into a full sentence in the form of a User Story. 

“In software development and product management, a user story is an informal, natural language description of features of a software system. They are written from the perspective of an end user or user of a system.”

Have a conversation with students about writing from the perspective of someone or a group of people that is not yourself. What about this technique can be helpful? ... unhelpful? etc. 

1. Write a “full sentence” as a User Story from your Statement (above). 

2. Follow the template below to write your User Story: 

As a ____________________________ user,

I want ______________________________
so that/in order to ___________________.

Here is the template with suggestions for which parts of speech the students should use: 

As a _________[ADJ.]___________________ user,

I want ___________[VERB+DESCRIPTION]_______

so that/in order to ____[ACTION/GOAL]________.

And here is an imagined example:

As a LAZY user,


so that/in order to I CAN FINALLY RELAX.

3. Break into small groups and have students edit each other’s sentences and explain the sentiment behind their Poetic User Stories. Are the statements too literal? Do they sound too farfetched? Can you already spot metaphors?

4. Use the Poetic User Stories and Statements as the starting point to begin designing. Ask students: how will they accomplish designing their writing from start to finish? After the design phase is done, have the students discuss the process of using a piece of their own writing as a starting point for design work.