A Guide to Creating User Story Maps

What’s a User Story Map

When we start a project we can potentially be faced with 100’s of requirements. It can be difficult to grasp where to start.

To help with this Jeff Patton invented story mapping as a way to visualise user stories. The story maps help you reach a visual and prioritised product backlog.    

Rather than writing a dull requirements document, story mapping is an engaging activity.  It’s an opportunity for the team to come together to tell a story about a type of person doing something to reach a goal.

The story maps work best when you base them on user research.  This way you know your requirements are grounded in reality.

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5 Point UX Writing Checklist

UX writing is the act of writing copy for user interfaces.  Using the right language is essential to creating great user experiences. It helps users achieve their goals and get to where they want to go.

To help keep your UX writing top notch,  keep your writing:

UX Writing Checklist

1. Clear

The language you use should give the user context. Pay attention to the verb as action words tends to be the most powerful part of your sentence. For clarity try not to use jargon and technical terms that users will struggle to understand.

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Inclusivity is a foundation of UX design

Inclusivity is as much a mindset as universal design, albeit with a broader goal. Inclusivity is the policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized. This includes people with handicaps and learning disabilities, as well as diverse populations and minorities. For example, by designing for users with bad internet connectivity, we are being more inclusive of those who are unable to afford high speed internet connections.

Complete Beginner’s Guide to Universal Design, UX Booth, Editorial Team

As design professionals we often use personas in our design process. In my experience we rarely account for users with different abilities. Ability, both physical and mental, impacts our experiences.  To remind us of this UX Booth use the term ‘Universal Design’.

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The importance of minimising interaction cost in UX design

“The interaction cost is the sum of efforts, mental and physical, that the users must deploy in interacting with a site in order to reach their goals”
RALUCA BUDIU, Nielsen Norman Group

I often refer to an article by Nielsen Norman Group (N/N Group) on interaction cost. According to N/N Group the ideal interaction cost is zero.

Zero interaction cost is the Holy Grail. When the information a user needs is right in front of them, that equals zero interaction cost. The required effort it zero.

To achieve this it is important to reduce the cognitive effort required from users. Yet zero interaction cost is rarely attainable. Most task need some level of cognitive effort. Whether clicking a link, scrolling down a page or scanning a page of text.

Reducing interaction cost

Below are a few of the factors that have a negative effect on interaction cost.

  • Reading
  • Scrolling
  • Looking around to find relevant information
  • Comprehending information presented to you
  • Clicking or touching (without making mistakes)
  • Typing
  • Page loads and waiting times
  • Attention switches
  • Memory load; the information that users must remember to complete task

All the above increase cognitive load. To keep interaction cost low it’s important to reduce these factors in our designs.

Interaction cost applied

Levi’s have reduced interaction cost for the process of buying clothes online. They have acheived this by making options immediately visible on the page.

Levi's interaction cost

Most shopping sites hide options in dropdown menus. Compared to Levi’s solution this significantly increases the interaction cost. They need two or three clicks to achieve what is immediately visible on Levi’s.

On the Levi’s website with one click I can see if the colour of jeans I want are available in my size and length. No clicking or scrolling required.


Interaction cost is generally a good measure of how difficult an interface will be to use for a user. So a large part of usability should deal with lowering interaction cost.

When accessing designs against each other compare the interaction cost of each. This will help you to understand which design is more likely to be successful.

Five steps to bring more focus into your UX page design process


Sketching is an important tool in the UX design process. It takes you away from the screen and gives you the opportunity to design quickly and effectively.

Before you start

Before you start sketching it’s best to have developed a set of user stories based on your audience needs.

There are some different ways to do this but I like to create a user story map.

One you have a set of user stories you can decide on the pages you will need to achieve them.  Now is the perfect time to create a sitemap.

Now you can start thinking about page layout and design. Sketching gives you the opportunity to design fast. To make the process smoother there are a few steps you can follow.

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