How User Stories Benefit Alumni and University Development

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know the important role user personas play in website design, development, and marketing. They help us understand exactly what content and features will best address the needs of our clients’ users. They also act as a catalyst for writing descriptive user stories, which provide insight into your audience’s motivations and encourage empathy for the alumni, donors, volunteers, and staff members who will be frequenting your site.

A user story is a short, simple description of a feature told from the perspective of the person who desires the capability, usually the end user. User stories are a technique often used in website development to capture product functionality. The right user stories will help determine the functionality necessary to meet the goals of your user personas. For example, if one of your personas is an alumna who wants to reconnect with college friends, it’s important to include this in the user story so that you website developers know to include social sharing options or links to alumni social media communities on your website.

Related: See how the University of Pennsylvania thanked more than 60,000 donors in an interactive and engaging way.

User stories often follow a simple template:

As a <type of user>, I want <some goal> so that <some reason>.

For university advancement professionals, the end user may be an alumnus, donor, volunteer, staff member, or member of the general public. User stories are useful because they shift the focus from the development team thinking about features to actually discussing them with the target audience. It’s important for various university stakeholders to be involved in the process of writing user stories to ensure their needs are reflected in the final product.

Effective user stories will lead to happier and more engaged alumni, donors, and volunteers. They will help you provide an online experience that feels thoughtful and personalized, rather than confusing and vague. But writing user stories is no easy task. It takes time, practice, and collaboration. To help you get started, we’ve written two examples of alumni and university development user stories.

Alumni example:

As an alumnus, I want to  attend my local alumni club so I can reconnect with friends, network, and meet new people.

Donor example:

As a donor, I want information on how gifts are used so that I see the impact on a desired cause, enabling me to make decisions on future donations.

As you can see, both users have varying goals and would go on very different user journeys once on the site. The first user is interested in alumni events, and would need a way to find events going on in his area. Ideally, he’d be able to look up local alumni events, see who else is attending, and register for the event with ease. Even better, he’d be enrolled in an email marketing campaign that sends a series of emails on the speakers, topics, and causes, and a final reminder the day before to enrich his experience of attending. The donor, on the other hand, is mainly interested in seeing the impact her past and future donations will make. She wants personalized stories relating to the specific fund she’s donated to and how her donations are making a difference to the school.

These are just a few examples of university advancement user stories. To craft users stories that reflect the needs of your own unique audiences, download our latest white paper – Your Comprehensive Guide to Writing User Stories for Alumni and University Development. In it, we share tips on how to discover the right stories, collaborate with stakeholders, and keep stories concise.

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