How To Create User Story Mapping (Plus Major Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When developing new and exciting products, it can be important for companies to use helpful exercises, such as user story mapping, to ensure the products will be beneficial to their consumers. If you're hoping to create an influential user story map, it can be helpful to understand how to design and interact with one using tools such as product objectives and user personas. In this article, we discuss what user story mapping is, it's major benefits and give you a list of steps on how to create a user story map yourself.

Related: Guide To Understanding Product Development

What is user story mapping?

User story mapping is a visual exercise to help product development teams better understand their target consumer by establishing the major tasks customers will perform while using the product. This can allow the development team to ensure the product will be beneficial to the user's needs and help to identify any challenges with the product's functions before they create it. The product manager often creates the user story through detailed user personas, they establish from customer interactions, to better the product's functions and overall development.

Related: Learn About Being a Product Manager

Benefits of user story mapping

Here are the major benefits of participating in user story mapping:

Prioritizes customers

User story mapping can help prioritize customers and their needs by examining the user's perspective and building the product around the challenges they face. This can help improve the customer experience and increase their satisfaction with company products.

For example, if a business knows that a consumer has trouble purchasing shoes online because they're often the wrong size upon receiving them, the business can create a system to help customers purchase the right-sized shoes.

Related: What Is Customer Satisfaction and Why Is It Important?

Organizes workflow

Story mapping can help organize workflow by allowing the product development team to understand how tasks need to be prioritized. This can allow them to manage their time efficiently to create a helpful product for consumers more quickly. For example, if a company knows there are three major components of the product that need to be completed for customers to test it and provide feedback, they know to complete those three components first.

Highlights major challenges

Developing a user story map can help businesses find any flaws or challenges in the product design. This is because the user story map allows companies to walk through the use of the product from the customer's perspective, allowing them to understand any problems or inconveniences the customer may face. Being aware of these problems before they create the product can allow companies to adjust their action plan accordingly.

Allows for continuous feedback

Using a user story map can allow businesses to receive continuous feedback from consumers as the product is built. This is because the company can use the story map to create a minimum viable product (MVP) and allow users to test it and provide their critiques. By listening to continuous feedback, companies can create powerful final products that are beneficial to their consumers.

Related: How To Get Feedback From Customers

How to do user story mapping

Here is a list of steps you can use to create a user story map:

1. Develop user personas

User personas are mock customer identities that represent members of a company's target audience. Companies can create these personas through customer interactions to learn about certain challenges that consumers face and group similar answers into fictitious user personas. These personas can also list other information, such as age, family, occupation and hobbies, to help businesses better understand their customers and tailor their products more efficiently.

When developing your own user personas, it can be helpful to interview customers through things like focus groups and A/B testing to better understand their thoughts on the company's products or ideas. It can also be beneficial to ask them what kind of goods or items they want to see on the market and problems they find when using other businesses' products.

Read more: What Is a User Persona?

2. Create product objectives

Creating product objectives can guide the story mapping process by helping companies understand what the product will accomplish and how it will benefit their consumers. When developing the user story map and brainstorming additional functions for the product, the objective can be a helpful tool for the team to use to ensure they keep the focus on the product's goal.

For example, when developing a new product with the goal of charging phones more easily, if someone suggests adding a bluetooth speaker to the device, it's possible the idea might not fit well with the product's overarching objective.

Related: Product Strategies: What They Are and How To Write One

3. Build the user story

Building the user story involves establishing a list of steps that the customer will take when using your product from start to finish. This can help companies identify the major components of the product they're trying to create through an established "journey." It's possible the user might not follow the story in the listed order or fulfill every single step, but it can be important for the business to provide customers with the option. For example, when developing a new note-taking application, the journey a customer takes from opening the app to closing it might include:

  • Interacting with notes

  • Finding notes

  • Managing notes

4. Identify major tasks

Major tasks include any action or activity that fits with one of the story step categories. This can provide businesses with a more in-depth understanding of how customers might use their product. It can also help businesses see if they need to add any more story steps to their user map by finding tasks that don't fit under an already established category.

When identifying major tasks, it can be helpful to examine the product from the perspective of your user personas. For example, when examining the note-taking app from a user persona of a college student, it's possible they might want to share their notes with other individuals. The company could then add the "sharing notes" task to the "managing notes" category. Once finished, the story step with the included tasks could resemble something like this:

Managing notes tasks:

  • Sharing notes

  • Deleting notes

  • Organizing notes into groups

  • Naming notes and groups

  • Rearranging order of notes and groups

5. Recognize challenges

Once you've created the user story and identified the major tasks, it can be helpful to examine the story and find any challenges or problems with the product in its current form. This can help the product development team make adjustments and find solutions right away to ensure the product's success. A great way to recognize major challenges with a product idea is to examine it using different user personas.

This can help the team walk through the use of the product and the different tasks each persona would perform before completing their user story. If the user cannot complete their journey, it's possible that additional steps or tasks need to be added to the story map.

For example, when examining the note-taking app from the persona of someone who likes to edit or re-do their notes, the team might discover the lack of a "copy and paste" feature in the "interacting with notes" story step, and make the necessary changes.

6. Prioritize work

Prioritizing the workload of the story map can help companies determine the most important tasks to complete in order to achieve a minimum viable product. This can allow them to develop a working product more quickly that they can test with consumers and receive helpful feedback.

When creating an MVP, it can be important to first ensure that the customer is able to perform each one of the story steps, then add any other tasks or functions you think are necessary. This can be another great way to understand if each story step and task contributes to the product's goal and how they benefit the consumer.

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