How To Story Map — A Simple Example

Journeys

To start with, we need to define the core user journeys in our product. It's important to truly think in terms of user journeys and not technical features. So, examples of some typical user journeys are as follows:

  • Buy a product

  • Register an account

  • Contact the business

  • Top up my balance

  • Learn about the brand

  • Request a call back

  • Download a book

Notice that these all begin with a verb, and they're all written from the user's perspective. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it really helps to get inside the mind of your user. Let's take "Buy a product" as our example. We need to to write this down, either on a post-it, or electronically — like so:

Our single journey. Simple so far, right?

Steps

Once you have a user journey established, you need to define the steps required to achieve the journey. Think of this as all the things the user will need to do from start to finish, at a fairly high level. So, in order to buy a product, the user might need to:

  • Select a product

  • Review product selection

  • Enter delivery details

  • Enter payment details

  • Purchase selection

This can be quite specific to your product. For example, if we had a particularly unique checkout process, this flow should be captured here. However — don't feel tempted to capture the smaller details like "address lookup" or "promo code", as this will all be picked up in user stories. Verbs work well here to, but feel free to tailor this to your own terminology and workflows.

Once you have your steps defined, you write them under the journey the sequence from left to right. In our example this will look like:

Steps from left to right

Awesome 😎— now we have a really clear outline of the user journey and how they can get from start to finish. Now is the fun part...

Stories

Our task is to now create placeholder user stories that fit into any one of the steps outlined above. The beauty here is that we are not committing to actually develop any of these stories yet, we are merely gathering ideas and requirements. This is a perfect time for stakeholder engagement. This exercise will raise collaborative discussions about how you can innovate along your journey. Some stories might be simple and obvious like:

  • Add to cart button

  • Change item quantity

  • Remove from cart button

  • Pay with debit/credit card

  • Order confirmation email notification

But, make sure you're open to innovation here and jot down more left-field ideas. For example:

  • Pay with Bitcoin/Ethereum

  • Scan item barcode from catalogue / in-store

  • View product on Oculus Rift / HTC Vive

  • Request live demo with hangouts

Story titles should be short and to the point, but not so short that they are not descriptive. There is no need to add story descriptions right now. We need to place the stories that we come up with in the column of the step that they relate to. In our case, that might look like this: