Streamlining Responsive Design: A Guide to Contextual Product Backlogs and User Stories


Responsive design stands as a significant challenge in the ever-evolving landscape of modern user experience (UX). The question looms: how can we efficiently design for a multitude of devices and screen dimensions without repeatedly creating wireframes or diving into the complexities of HTML coding? To be candid, finding an effective solution has proven elusive thus far.

In this article, we embark on a journey to tackle the intricacies of responsive design by exploring the concepts of contextual product backlogs and user stories. These methodologies hold the promise of simplifying the responsive design process while maintaining a user-centric focus.

Understanding Responsive Design Challenges:

Responsive design entails crafting digital experiences that seamlessly adapt to various devices, screen sizes, and orientations. Achieving this without duplicating design efforts or resorting to labor-intensive coding has been a persistent struggle for UX professionals.

Enter Contextual Product Backlogs:

Contextual product backlogs introduce an innovative approach to responsive design. These backlogs are a dynamic collection of user stories and tasks grouped by context, helping UX designers align their efforts with user needs and device-specific requirements.

Benefits of Contextual Product Backlogs:

1. Efficiency: Contextual backlogs enable designers to address unique user experiences across different devices without redundancy, streamlining the design process.

2. User-Centric Focus: By organizing user stories by context, the design team remains attuned to the specific needs and expectations of users on various devices.

3. Collaboration: Cross-functional teams can collaborate more effectively, as contextual backlogs provide a clear roadmap for each device’s design requirements.

Harnessing User Stories:

User stories, an integral component of contextual product backlogs, describe user interactions with a product or feature from a user’s perspective. These stories capture the “who,” “what,” and “why” of user interactions, offering a deep understanding of user needs.

Creating Effective User Stories:

1. Persona and Context: Start with a clear understanding of the user persona and the context in which they will interact with the product. This contextual awareness informs the user story.

2. User Goal: Define the user’s objective or goal in this particular context. What does the user intend to achieve?

3. Action: Describe the specific action the user takes to fulfill their goal.

4. Outcome: Highlight the expected outcome or benefit the user derives from taking that action.

Illustrating Responsive Design with User Stories:

Let’s consider an example: designing a responsive e-commerce website. A user story for a mobile device might read:

“As a busy commuter (Persona), I want to quickly browse and purchase products (User Goal) by easily navigating through a mobile-friendly interface (Action) so that I can make efficient purchases on the go (Outcome).”

For a tablet user, the story could be:

“As a leisurely shopper (Persona), I want to explore product details at my own pace (User Goal) by having an intuitive and visually appealing tablet layout (Action) to make informed purchasing decisions (Outcome).”

By crafting user stories tailored to the context, you create a user-centered responsive design strategy that addresses diverse user needs while maintaining design coherence.


Responsive design challenges in the modern UX world demand innovative solutions. Contextual product backlogs and user stories offer a promising path forward by fostering efficiency, maintaining a user-centric focus, and enabling collaboration. As we navigate the complexities of responsive design, these methodologies empower UX professionals to design with agility and precision, ensuring exceptional user experiences across a multitude of devices and screen sizes.

Categories STRATEGY