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.
An Example User Story Map
A User Story Map is essentially arranging small things under big things in a grid format. To explore this in more detail let’s look at an example User Story Map for an e-commerce site.
Row one – Users:
The person who is trying to do something. Base these on personas created from user research.
If we were building an e-commerce website this might be a ‘First-time Customer’.
Row two – Activities:
An activity is a big thing that people do – something that has lots of steps to reach a goal. Use the activity for the ‘So that I’ part of a user story.
Thinking about an e-commerce website, a big thing our first-time customer might want to do is ‘Find a Product’.
Row three – Backbone:
These are the smaller task that breakdown the user’s activity. Arrange the backbone in a narrative flow. Think of a user’s journey through the system.
When finding a product a smaller task our first-time customer carries out could be ‘Searching for a Product’.
Row four – Users Tasks:
This is a breakdown of the things people do to achieve the backbone task. Use the user task for the ‘I want to’ part of a user story. At this level, it’s okay to start including details of what the UI might look like.
In order to achieve the backbone task of ‘Searching for a Product’ our first-time customer could ‘Search by Keyword’.
Creating A User Story Map
- The first step to creating a user story map is to create the backbone row. To do this gather the major user task that people do. This is best done as a team with each member writing one task per post it.
- When you’ve finished arranging the task in a row group the post it notes. Place tasks that are similar to each other close together. If tasks are dissimilar to each other place them further apart.
- To form the activities row name each group you have created using a post it. Place the group name above each group.
- Arrange the groups from left to right. Do this in the order you think people would complete the task.
- Add the user who will be carrying out each activity. Try using lightweight persona to describe your users. Place these above each activity.
- Add more detailed user stories below each task. Again, this works well in a team, with each team member writing one task per post it note.
- Add release lines.
- Prioritise your user stories. Place the most important user stories near the top in the first releases. Place the least important user stories nearer the bottom in the later release.