Users stories acceptance criteria are an integral part of the user story. If not done exhaustively, acceptance criteria can cause a whole chain of issues such as bad sequencing of development tasks or wrong estimations provided by the team. At the same time the exercise of defining theses conditions of satisfaction is time consuming and repetitive.

How can I create a framework that will help minimise the level of details needed for defining acceptance criteria?

I am thinking of defining different components of this framework by establishing patterns in areas such as interaction design,accessibility,information capture etc. would this be an efficient way of communicating what needs to be done?

Will this create shared understanding between development and UX teams?

Anyone with experience dealing with this issue?

My aim is to have some form of shared understanding, reduce documentation, optimise time use and focus on getting things done!


This isn't really a framework issue as much as an overall corporate process issue. The bigger the organization, the more documentation and details it tends to require (which is antithetic to the agile process, but I digress...)

That said...

I am thinking of defining different components of this framework by establishing patterns in areas such as interaction design,accessibility,information capture etc.

That is an excellent idea, and a common one. A 'pattern library' is an indispensable tool for UX teams. I personally feel that it is the one UX produced bit of documentation that has the greatest ROI.

But keep in mind that won't cover the breadth of the acceptance criteria. A pattern library is really for dealing with consistent interaction and visual design—both extremely important—but not necessarily the only bits of acceptance criteria you will find.

My purely personal opinion and not backed up with research (so take it all with a huge grain of salt) is that acceptance criteria should be written in-sync with Agile process.

In other words, creating the acceptance criteria is not a particular step in the Agile process, but merely something that happens as the Agile process unfolds.

Example scenario:

  • User story is written
  • UX begins sketching
  • As UX works with the stakeholders (IT, business, Project Management, etc.) Acceptance criteria begin to get fleshed out.
  • As the sketching process continues, ACs are revised as well.
  • Development picks up the features to be implemented in the next sprint.
  • During the spring, ACs are revised further as needed.
  • At the end of the sprint, consensus has to be reached that the developed product meets the ACs and—this is the key to me—that the ACs meet the developed product.

In other words, the ACs are part of the sketching process until the very end. They don't dictate the solution, nor are they beholden to it. They are a partner and work along side with the solution as it's fleshed out. They aren't set in stone until the Agile process winds its way to the end where there's something to deliver at the end of a sprint. At that point, the ACs are 'solidified' and typically handed off to the QA team.

  • thanks. Definitely share your opinion on the fact that AC should be written in sync with agile process. Easier said than done in some environments! Particularly with waterfall legacy.. Any reference you would recommend to get me started?
    – Okavango
    Jan 6 '15 at 17:21
  • @Okavango no! I wish I had! If you find anything, do share with me. Note the above is my ideal world. I don't work in the ideal world either and we have a whole lot of waterfall legacy baggage in our own Agile process. It is frustrating, for sure!
    – DA01
    Jan 6 '15 at 17:30
  • Oh, and one suggestion...maybe uncheck this answer for a bit. Give the question a day or two to see if you get other answers from others. I'm flattered that you checked this one, but I'm also very interested to hear form other's on this topic as well.
    – DA01
    Jan 6 '15 at 17:31
  • Thanks @DA01, will keep an eye! Will let you if I do find anything of interest :)
    – Okavango
    Jan 6 '15 at 17:34
  • You right @DA01 will do!
    – Okavango
    Jan 6 '15 at 17:51

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