How to Create a USER STORY MAP To Make Customer Focused Roadmaps

4 steps to create a user story map. See the bigger picture of your product, have user-centered conversations, and get your team aligned.

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4 steps to create a User Story Map

So that you can start creating your own agile roadmaps.

User Story Maps benefits:

  • See the bigger picture of your product (or project)
  • Have user-centered conversations with your team
  • Get people aligned, making it easier to plan

​ Intro
01:00​ What is User Story Mapping?
02:03​ User Story Mapping Benefits
03:09​ Four steps to User Story Mapping
04:14​ Map the Big Picture
05:49​ Explore Opportunities
08:14​ Slice Out your Strategy
09:21​ Syncing your User Story Map in Miro
09:58​ Why it's called User Story Mapping
10:56​ GIVEAWAY! 100 YouTube Subscribers

Managing agile projects can become difficult quite fast

How do you focus on the right priorities, balancing your business goals with your customer goals and also keep everyone involved aligned? In this video, we're going to create a User Story Map so that you always see the bigger picture of your project, have user-centered conversations and make it easier to align with your team and also to plan the right things.

I train founders, product owners and strategists and to become experts in creating User Story Maps because it's one of the most effective ways to transform your business goals into the best possible strategy.

A User Story Mapping workshop is a great way to get the results.

It helps you to see the bigger picture, how everything connects together, helps you to plan what steps you want to build first, have user-centered conversations, collaborate with your team and prioritize the right things to build first.

We're going to create this User Story Map together in this video, and I'm going to break down the four steps that I use to get to this end result and by doing so, you will be able to create your own first User Story Map after this video.

A User Story Map is a lightweight way to connect the vision of your product, or your company to a roadmap and in this way, you can make sure that you're executing on the right things and it helps you define the best possible strategy for it.

In last week's video, we created a customer journey, which is somewhere in between the vision and the strategy of your product.

We also created, way before that, a Lean Canvas, which you can also see as something that defines your vision.

So what we're going to do in a bit is to start with our customer journey map from last week.

And we're going to zoom in on the specific part of that customer journey that is the product that we wanna build.

Why take the trouble to create a User Story Map?

But before we do that, why even go through the trouble to create a User Story Map? Why not just make a simple list like this where the highest priority things are on top and then everything that's lower priority comes below it?

That's because if you do that in Trello, for example, then you can see that it can become quite messy quite fast so it's really hard to see here why this user story is on top if it's actually the one that has the most value.

Same thing goes for Jira.

For example, this backlog over here, it shows just a flat list with some labels with some type of work that is going to be done but it's still a flat list and it's difficult to see where in the customer journey we're going to pick up these things.

If you compare that with a User Story Map, then you can see the overview here quite quickly and you can see the journey of the customer.

You can see what's going to be built first.

You can also see what the customer is involved quickly because of the labels.

It also helps you to spot the riskiest assumptions in your product and in this way, you can focus on validating those assumptions first before you go off and maybe build the wrong product.

And the nice thing is that you can even connect this to a Trello or to Jira so that it's always up to day.

Okay, so there are four steps to get from a customer journey map like this to a User Story Map like this:

  1. Frame the problem
  2. Map the big picture
  3. Explore
  4. Slice out your strategy.

1. Frame the problem

So you start with framing the problem and we have already done it in a couple videos.

So for example, you can use the Lean Canvas to frame your problem.

And in this way, you define your vision.

You also list your assumptions over there and it becomes easier to create your User Story Map.

A value proposition can also be helpful where you define the pains and the gains and the customer jobs of a customer on the right side.

And then you can start figuring out how you can relieve that pain or maybe create some gain and how your products or services can help with that.

And then also a great way to frame your problem is this video of creative problem solving.

How might we questions are a great way to frame your problem.

In the example of our customer journey, we have made use of an online marketplace where we listed out how people became aware and how they, in the end, hopefully become raving fans.

So we're going to use this as the frame of our problem.

2. Map the big picture

And the next step is to map the big picture and because we already created the customer journey, a lot of the hard work is already done over there.

So in this case, we're going to make use of the User Story feature of Miro, which is over here.

So templates, oh, it's already over here.

You can use a blank template or use it pre-filled.

We click pre-filled, then you see an example over here.

So we're going to build something like this.

So if you need some extra inspiration, then you can have a look at this template of Miro but in this case, we're going to start from scratch.

What I did do already is to copy the big headings over here from the customer journey.

As you can see over here, we had the aware, engage, subscribe topics over here.

We already had more concrete examples under it and you can put those things at the top of your User Story Map.

These are activities.

In this case, we have chosen for engage, subscribe, convert.

It can also be something else if that works better for your product.

And then below it, we have specific tasks that the user's going to take to get to the end result.

In this case, it's really easy because we already created the customer journey.

If you don't have a customer journey yet, then either you can create one or you can start the User Story Map with writing down the steps a user takes to get from just learning about your product, about you, to becoming a raving fan at the end.

What are the steps in between? And put them in a chronological order.

When you're working with your team, then this would be a nice moment to do a sanity check with them to see if the bigger picture, which you have mapped over here is right.

And if not, then have a short discussion about that and update the steps above it.

3. Explore

And in step three, you're going to explore the opportunities for the things that could be in your product.

So you can go wild over here but it is helpful if you have validated some of your assumptions first.

For example, with a prototype of your product.

If you are not sure yet about a new product you want to launch, then a good way is to create a prototype and to test it with customers, get real feedback before actually building the product.

So I recommend doing that in this step.

Explore the opportunities.

Also identify where your riskiest assumptions are and then move your ideas to the User Story Map.

You could do that in such a way that everything is there.

So don't worry about slicing a strategy yet, we're going to do that in the next step.

So you're just going to put everything over here.

In this case, if I visit the home page, then maybe the customer wants to see the latest 10 products.

They wanna navigate within the site.

Maybe the seller wants to create a seller account and log in to a seller portal.

In this case, I have described my users of the platform in a generic way, as buyer and seller.

And that could be sufficient for now but most of the times, it's worth to explore more what a buyer actually is because one buyer has different needs than another buyer and in this way, you can segment your buyers better.

And then also decide on what buyer you're going to focus on first.

So you don't need to build everything for everyone but you can focus on the highest potentials customers first.

In this case, we have only explored with text, writing things down.

But if there are assumptions in your map, then it's critical to validate them first before actually starting to build it.

And a great way to do that is by making use of a prototype, like I said before.

In Miro there's also a functionality to make wireframes.

You can do a website wireframe or you can have an app wireframe.

In this case, I added the website wireframe and in this way, it's way easier to make concrete what it actually means if someone is looking at this specific part of the User Story Map.

So you want to link this with the navigation over here because then you really know what's meant over there.

Finding a balance between validation your assumptions first and actually building the product, that's one of the toughest parts of being a founder or a product owner or a strategist.

So that's why we are creating a User Story Mapping course.

You can find more information about that below in the description or visit

But let's say for now that we actually validated our assumptions and the things over here are actually worth building.

Then let's move to the fourth and final step.

4. Slice out your strategy

Because the fourth and final step is to slice out your strategy because everything now is in the User Story Map and of course, you cannot build everything at once.

So there needs to be some decisions about what are we going to do first? And an easy way to do that is to make sue of these sections.

So now next and later.

Those are the labels I like to use.

In a User Story Map, it's called a release.

So maybe you want to add another release, then you could do so like this.

But for now, let's start with now, next, later because most of the times, that's sufficient.

When doing this step, it's always important to decide on what gives the most value to your customer and requires the least effort of your team while still making sense as a product.

A great way to do this with your team in 15 minutes is called Magic Estimation.

I will talk more about that in a future video.

For now, let's slice out the strategy for this online market.

Okay, so the User Story Map is finished for now at least.

We can focus on the first release, which is called now.

And we're going to look with the team how can we build this as fast as possible with the highest possible quality? But a User Story Map is a living document.

So it's important to keep it up to date and the easiest way to do that in this case, because we are working in Miro, a digital whiteboard, is to connect it with Trello or with Jira or Asana because then every update that is done either in Miro or in, for example, Jira, is synced both ways.

And in this case, you can make sure that you always have the latest up-to-date information.

You can do that by going over here and then, for example, let's say Asana.

So in this case, you can make sure of Asana Cards and then everything that's captured in Asana is always shown over here as well.

And now that I see this example, I remember that I forgot to tell why a User Story Map is called a User Story Map.

That's because we make use of a template, which is called user story and the user story template looks like this.

As a type of user, I want some goal so that some outcome.

And two parts of this template are already filled in.

Our type of user is the buyer, in this case, and the buyer wants to add things to their wishlist.

And the only thing that is missing is the outcome.

So what I like to do is to write only the outcome over here to prevent that you have to do things double.

In this case so that I can easily find back the items that I am considering to buy.

You can even assign this to the person who's going to pick it up.

Maybe add a due date of next week and that's all reflected in the User Story Map.

So that's User Story Mapping in an example.

It's a great way to define the strategy for your business, for your product and to connect the vision with the roadmap.

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