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Writing Effective Acceptance Criteria

What Are Acceptance Criteria?

Acceptance criteria define the specific requirements that a feature or functionality must meet to be accepted by stakeholders. They ensure a shared understanding of what’s expected from a user story or product backlog item.

Key Features of Effective Acceptance Criteria

Here are the vital components that acceptance criteria should encompass:

  • Clear and Concise: They should be easily understandable, devoid of ambiguity.
  • Observable: Acceptance criteria should lead to observable outcomes, making it clear when they are met.
  • Independent: Each criterion should stand alone and not be overly reliant on another.
  • Necessary: They should be relevant and essential to the feature or functionality in question.


Good Example: "The user can sort the product list by price, either ascending or descending."

Bad Example: "The user can sort the products better."

The first example is clear, specifying the exact expectation. The latter is ambiguous and doesn’t offer clarity on how the sorting should be improved.


Well-crafted acceptance criteria bridge the gap between stakeholders and developers, ensuring that features are built correctly the first time around. By keeping them clear, concise, and relevant, teams can avoid unnecessary revisions and ensure smooth project execution.