Story mapping is a simple ideology that places buyers’ journeys at the forefront with exciting backlogs. This simple idea is all about making work easier for an agile development team.
A user story map template illustrates ways to improve end-user experience, enhance team understanding of target customers, and prioritize work. It’s a sophisticated model built around users’ stories, explaining how they engage with the product.
User mapping, in simpler words, is a visual exercise designed to support agile development teams and product managers redefine processes delivering the ultimate user experience.
Seeing all possible bug fixes, enhancements, features – all in one place – offers unlimited possibilities, right? Backlogs of consumer data are indeed full of potential but can also be confusing.
After all, delivering a delightful user experience is what we all want to achieve. To that end, understanding your customers’ needs and preferences is essential to ensure the long-term use of the product.
If you are clueless about story mapping and how to create one to enhance your team’s perspective on user experience, keep reading!
A Brief Guide on Story Mapping
First introduced by the famous software specialist Jeff Patton, story mapping can be explained as a visual and planning tactic, allowing your agile development team to place the development backlog into action.
It systematizes sprint tasks with steps representing a buyer persona’s journey towards achieving their goals.
It’s a brief but straightforward description of a product feature from the user’s standpoint. Bear in mind that it doesn’t look anything like a map but still resembles the Kanban board.
It’s a great way to organize complex tasks into a sequence of development deadlines and user stories into sprints.
It shows the natural progression of steps and functions within a user story involving columns of digital cards and a whiteboard.
Building a dynamic graph of customers’ interactions with the product also evaluates each step and prioritizes them according to their relevance.
Certainly, it’s an alternative to a flat list of backlog items or spending long hours on lengthy requirement documents.
Indeed, the development team develops user stories in a predetermined format that captures the company’s value without exceeding the sprint.
Product managers’ go-to tool for visualizing user stories and ways of accomplishing them within a sprint is story mapping.
Leveraging story mapping enhances developers’ understanding of what the customer wants from the product and then working hard to meet said expectations.
Steps in Creating a User Story Mapping
Undoubtedly, story mapping takes time. Fortunately, we are up for the challenge. Below are the logical steps of a story mapping process.
Frame the Buyer Journey
Before anything else, it’s essential to frame the sprint around a shared vision. So the first and foremost step is to identify your primary audience.
To gain deeper insights about your customer, conduct focus group and A/B testing, keeping the team moving forward in the right direction.
Identify the Problem
The next step is all about focusing on the problem your product aims to solve. Start by identifying the big picture and broad user applications associated with your product.
For instance, what will the customer overcome in the end? Keep a user-centric mindset, and visualize all the steps.
If all this feels overwhelming, the simplest way to begin is to answer a simple question: what does your product aim at solving? When answering, remember the 5Ws:
Build Your Story Backbone
It’s time to define your backbone, where the entire user journey is listed according to their priority. This step describes tasks from start to finish without going into the details of each step.
In the end, you will have a list of actions your customer must make in order to achieve the final outcome.
Keep in mind the narrative flow highlighting a story. It defines the ideal user flow of actions.
Break Down the Bigger Picture
Each of the steps listed above is about complex, extensive user activities that need to be divided into smaller user tasks.
Here is where you go in-depth and define every action your target buyer will take. This is the backbone of the user story map.
The backbone defines the user story but lacks tasks to support them. Hence, under each backlog, prioritize the job depending on its importance. Here, the first step is necessary to move to the next one.
Therefore, always keep high-priority errands on top and push less important ones down the list.
The Final Note
Undoubtedly, story mapping is an effective visualizing technique designed to structure the product backlog.
It builds shared understanding among the development team, prioritizes tasks, identifies gaps, and helps deliver a delightful customer experience.