A user story map visually represents multiple features at the same time, describing each feature in detail from the point-of-view of end users.
User stories play an important role in agile software development. Their main goal is to shift the focus from writing about requirements to talking about them. They’re told from the perspective of end users and usually are two or three sentences long. It’s typical to write user stories on post-it notes and arrange them on the wall, creating a map and sparking discussions.
A typical user story may look like this:
As a user, I want to have the option to automatically backup my personal documents to the cloud so they are available from anywhere and I don’t need to worry about losing them.
If a user story is too complicated to be completed in a single iteration, it’s usually split into multiple smaller stories, which are then organized on a user story map.
Because user stories are written from the point of view of end users, they should be written in the language of the end users. Clarity, brevity, and readability are the three main characteristics of a well-written user story.
With a detailed user story map, you won’t ever lose track of the big picture and will be able to focus on details with ease. Seeing everything that must be done at a glance helps developers complete tasks in time and can be used to update management on how swiftly the project is moving forward.
Tools for Creating User Story Maps
There are several fantastic software tools that can help you create well-designed user story maps quickly and easily, especially if you want to move beyond post-it notes on a wall or if you are working with distributed teams who need to collaborate on the user stories. The better your user story maps look and the more accessible they are, the less time it will take other project members to understand what’s happening at a glance and the more likely it will be that everyone will complete all assigned tasks on time.
FeatureMap is an easy-to-use story mapping tool designed to fit right into any agile environment and integrate with Trello and JIRA. At the core of FeatureMap is a simple three-step process. In the first step, you create a map and outline your goals. In the second step, you list ideas, tasks, and concepts on virtual cards. In the third step, you organize the cards however you like to get a visual overview of everything that needs be done. The free version of FeatureMap has no time limit, but it’s limited to only two maps. If you want more, you may purchase the premium version for €5 a month.
Another popular story mapping software is called StoriesOnBoard. Just like FeatureMap, it supports many popular project management tools, such as JIRA, Trello, GitHub Issues, or Pivotal Tracker. StoriesOnBoard features an infinitely expandable whiteboard where you can place virtual note cards to split user stories into many, easily digestible slices. The board is elastic, meaning you can add cards anywhere you want without reorganizing the entire board, and it supports remote teams. The basic version, which includes support for unlimited maps, costs $7 a month, and there are two other versions with extra features.
There are other applications you may want to explore for creating user story maps:
The user story map is a basic business analysis technique that can add value to the requirements elicitation process on agile projects. A few other techniques can be put easily into practice and yield results. With modern software tools for creating great-looking feature maps, most of the difficulties associated with features maps are gone, making it easier for analysts to document requirements.