Acceptance Criteria: Your Compass in Software Development

In the world of software development, acceptance criteria are your compass, guiding you safely through the development process. They are not just checklists, but rather signposts that ensure the final product delivers exactly what you need – even if you haven’t fully defined your requirements yet.

What are Acceptance Criteria?

Acceptance criteria are detailed, concrete conditions that determine when a software feature is considered “complete” or “acceptable”. Imagine you are ordering a custom-made suit. The acceptance criteria in this case would be the exact size, color, fabric, and specific features like the number of pockets and type of buttons. In software development, it works similarly.

Creating Effective Acceptance Criteria

1. Start with a Vision

Imagine you want to develop an app for online orders. Start with a broad vision, like “a user-friendly ordering app”.

2. Break It Down into User Stories

A user story could be: “As a customer, I want to be able to save my delivery address, so I can order faster.”

3. Formulate Acceptance Criteria from This

For the above user story, the acceptance criteria could be:

  • The app allows the user to save multiple addresses.
  • The addresses can be selected from a dropdown list with each order.
  • A default delivery address can be set.

4. Make It Measurable and Verifiable

Ensure that each criterion is concrete and verifiable. Instead of saying “fast”, define what “fast” means in seconds or steps.

5. Seek Feedback

Discuss these criteria with your development team to ensure they are realistic and achievable.


Acceptance criteria are a powerful tool for turning a vague idea into a tangible product. They provide a clear framework for what needs to be achieved, ensuring that everyone involved is satisfied with the outcome at the end. In software development, these criteria help you focus on the essentials and bring your vision to life step by step.