By organizing user goals, activities, and user stories, you can an intuitive, visual backlog, that everyone understands. This is what we call user story map. Why is it so important to create such easy-to-understand documentation? Your customers need a simple way to confirm product goals. Plus, your teammates benefit from such a straightforward platform, with a clear description guide at the tip of their fingertips to which thay can add valuable ideas. To sum up, user story maps are the aid to building shared understanding between project members.
The first step is to focus on your potential customers. Summarize which goals the users achieve by using the product. Write each goal on an index card or post it, and arrange them into the logical order.
For example on an accommodation website, the goals can be: “find hotels in Florida”, “choose the best hotel, near to the beach”, “book a room for a week”
After collecting the goals, retell the user journey. Identify the steps the user takes to fulfill her/his goal. Avoid mistakes by dutifully follow the narrative flow. Place the post-its into the second line, step-by-step. If you discover missing steps, just put it into the journey.
Post-it notes are a smart solution to creating small documents, but the online story mapping tool delivers more flexibility.
The next step is to find solutions for achieving the user steps. Through this process, you create "user stories". Initially, you can use the following template:
As a user , I want so that step.
Using the accommodation example, user stories are: “As a user, I want to find hotels for my holiday, so I start browsing the discounts and advertisements” or “As a user, I want to find hotels for the next week, so I start searching by date.” Brainstorm with your team to collect the most possible solutions and put all user stories under the related steps.
If tGTM-5GXSDZ2rming team was successful, the story map should be full of great ideas! User stories have different priority levels. Identify the most common behavior or the basic solution to the problem.
Organize user stories by priority and place the most important card at the top of the column. Discussing priorities with the customer is crucial, so be sure to stay connected with your partners.
First, specify the smallest working part of the product, the Minimum Viable Product. It's always hard to choose the fewest tasks for a marketable product.
Try to complete the user journey by beginning with the most common or most easy-to-develop tasks. Just focus on completing at least one user journey. After that, try to organize the rest of the backlog into tangible pieces by drawing horizontal lines between cards.
If you add estimations to user stories, you can plan and schedule the whole development process release by release. This is one of the most important pieces of information, so that your customer or executive needs to calculate delivery time and costs.
User story mapping is a very useful and commonly used technique amongst software delivery and agile design teams. It aims to capture an entire product solution, in a sequenced, easy to read visual artefact. In essence, teams map a user’s goals, actions, product features.
Teams can make very advanced and intricate user story maps. Or they can keep them lean and simple, focusing on only the core journey and interactions. It totally depends on the team, their maturity with the technique and their aims!
There’s a lot of debate about physical vs digital user story mapping. Which is better? What’s the advantages of one over the other? Can I only use on type? Here we’re going to dive into some of that discussion.
They achieve the same thing, a story map, but in different ways and produce very different final artefacts. Let’s do a comparison. First off, what do I mean by saying ‘physical’ vs ‘digital’ story map. What’s the difference?
Physical maps normally involve post-it notes and a big wall. Teams gather around the space and stick up the post-its to show the user’s journey through the product.
There’s something special about gathering a group of designers together to make a story map, with everyone desperately scribbling onto post-its. It feels raw and real!
Don’t like the sequencing of those features? Just move them, they’re sticky notes!
The wall will be large, there’s room for the full team to dig in and get creative. It gives everyone a shared experience.
A great advantage of physical over digital user story maps is you can stand back and take in the entire solution with a glance.
In this digital, cross located world it can be hard to get everyone you need in a room and for enough time to create a physical story map.
Once created, you can’t share the story map without moving the wall (or pictures…)! So for anyone not in that space, if your only artefact is that wall art, it can be hard to stay aware of the feature map.
A large story map will span multiple releases, likely over a long time period. It’s challenging to keep a wall of post-its relevant and safe enough to endure that full period, so you could easily lose your map. Even if you do, it’ll look pretty rugged by the end!
Digital story maps utilise a software programme, such as StoriesOnBoard, to create a digital version of the post-it wall described above, where an image of the post-it can be placed anywhere within the digital canvas.
They’re movable and easily sharable. You don’t have to commandeer the same room for 2 weeks because all you needs is access to the internet.
Easily maintained by the software, e.g. If you insert a new ‘post-it’ somewhere, everything automatically shifts along to create the space. Be that a day, or 6 months later.
This could be me, but it’s often really hard to read what someone wrote in a moment of exploration and design excitement. – Typed words are much more accessible, especially to those without context.
Softwares are clever. With digital story maps you can introduce layers of complexity and intricacy without taking away from the top layer story map. This allows you to see the full solution, but also instantly delve into the weeds of the detail if you need too.
Normally a good tool costs something. It’s likely not a lot for the features you get, but it’s something to consider when compared to a few packs of sticky notes.
It can feel less inclusive as you’ll need an individual ‘scribing’ at the computer as the discussion takes place, when with a physical story map you can all be the artist.
Unless you’re lucky to have a super large monitor it can be more tricky to take in the 40,000 ft view of entire product solution with a digital story map.
We can see there’s pros and cons to both approaches. “This isn’t helping me settle the physical vs digital story map debate” I hear you saying. In response, I say do we have to settle for picking one of the above? No! Instead I always recommend teams use a hybrid approach to achieve top quality user story maps.
A hybrid user story map has all of the advantages bestowed on physical maps by including; team co-location, the excitement of ‘in the moment’ collaborative design and the raw creativity of sticking post-its all over your office space. After that exuberance you can then step back, take it all in and understand where to cut your product releases by seeing the solution as a whole without having to scroll! Then, with the group creativity complete, you can spend some time turning it into a digital story map and begin to enjoy the pros associated with the digital mapping approach.
Call out the releases, join features and show user journey deviations with different colours.
Add extra detail to elaborate scenarios without taking away from the high-level picture.
Add addition information as you get questions answered from people not there at the time.
Because the group creativity is over you can afford to take time over it and produce a durable, high quality artefact that you can share with all your stakeholders – those that were there and those that could not make it or anyone simply interested! This new story map will be easily maintainable and can be iterated by the team as development and design continues.
Yes, this hybrid approach does take longer than simply doing either just a physical or digital story map, but I think the strengths of the approach far outweigh the extra time burden.Especially if you use an online backlog management tool like Jira or TFS, as for example, StoriesOnBoard integrates with both anyway, so by creating the digital map, you’ve created both an awesome story map that you can share and populated your backlog. Win win! So why settle for just pictures of your sticky-note wall or miss out on the group creativity when you don’t have to with a hybrid approach?
Story mapping is a great technique that should be embraced regardless of your approach to it. The question of physical vs digital story mapping is a valid one, as both have lots of advantages and disadvantages when used in isolation. That’s why I recommend combining both techniques and using a hybrid approach for your story maps, that way you get the best of both.
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