What is user story mapping?

Learn user story mapping in 5 simple steps

user story map

What are the steps of story mapping?

User story mapping is an agile product design method. It is the most effective way to create a user-centric product.By organising user goals, activities and user stories, you can create an intuitive, visual backlog that everyone can understand. This is called a user story map.

STEP 1 - Discover project goals

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”

project goal discovery with story map
user joruney mapping with story map

STEP 2 - Map the user journey

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 user story mapping tool delivers more flexibility.

STEP 3 - Come up with solutions

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.

user steps on a story map
user step and feature prioritization

STEP 4 - Organize tasks based on priority

If the 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.

STEP 5 - Slice out the release structure

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.

release structure planning with a story map

Start 14-day FREE trial

Ready to put your skills to practice?

story mapping playbook

FREE Story Mapping Playbook

All leaked best practices in one place

50 handpicked hints on

· Discovering project goals

· Mapping the user journey

· Prioritizing user stories

Bonus materials included

· 100 user stiory map examples

· Templates for specs

· Useful articles

Want to explore more? Start here.

storiesonbard blog

Product discovery with JIRA in 10 steps

Lack of discovery features in JIRA is no longer an obstacle with StoriesOnBoard!

Learn more →

Useful resources for user story mapping

A collection of the best intros, advanced techniques, case studies and tools for user story mapping curated by us.

Learn more →

How to add personas to an existing story map

Get rid of top level cards as persona cards and learn how to add personas to your story map like a pro.

Learn more →