User Story Mapping Guide for Agile & Scrum [+Template]

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User Story Mapping Template for Agile and Scrum Projects

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Create products your end users will want to use with our free user story mapping template
It almost goes without saying that understanding your users is a hugely important aspect of not just building a product, but maintaining one, as well. It can be easy, though, when you’re deep into the design and building stage of a product (or even when you’re updating one) to lose sight of the user.
It’s not a deliberate thing. It’s often something that happens when you make assumptions about your users as you’re building, rather than taking the time to get to know them a bit better.
To help make sure that your app or product works cohesively in a way that customers would expect, development teams and stakeholders often turn to user stories (and user story mapping) to help them understand their customer’s motivations for using their product.

What is story mapping?

User stories are a tool used during software development to help the product team put themselves in the mind of their customers and create a product that matches that vision. They tend to follow a pattern similar to the (tongue-in-cheek) example above, which is: As a _____ I want to ______ so that _______. Ideally, the blanks are filled in by the specifics of the program. For example, As a Coda user I want to create better processes for my business so that I can stop trying to manage everything in a spreadsheet.
User story mapping is taking this process one step further to capture user stories for each stage of using your product to help create a comprehensive look at the entire platform, piece by piece.
User story mapping helps developers break out of the practice of building modules in silos and then joining everything together and hoping it works the way you’d planned. With user-story mapping, what the customer wants is at the center of everything that you’re doing and, as a result of that, the end product tends to result in a more seamless experience because of it.
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The benefits of a user story mapping template

The main benefit of user-story mapping is that you’re building from the user’s perspective, rather than relying on best practices and assumptions. This puts you in a better position to get it right the first time, rather than having to go back and make changes after users start complaining.
Templates also give you a way to create a user story map that is portable, customizable, and shareable. It wasn’t that long ago that user story mapping was mainly done with post-it notes on a wall or a whiteboard. As you might imagine, this only really helped the people in the room with the map. Otherwise, you’d have to rely on people taking pictures of it (which doesn’t work with something that changes often) or, even worse, trying to cram it into a spreadsheet.

Visualize user journey

Nothing, absolutely nothing beats having a solid understanding of how end users are interacting with your product. Even for something like a website, knowing what your users are doing can be key to creating a successful product. As mentioned, if your approach relies heavily on best practices (ie: this is the way we’ve always done it), rather than what your customers expect, you risk creating a platform no one wants to use.

Manage product backlog

You might not think that user stories can help you manage your backlog, but they can be a highly effective tool. When you’re mapping out user stories, you start to notice gaps in what your product does, compared to what users are expecting. These gaps are where you should be focusing your energies in the backlog.

Prioritize work

Similar to managing the backlog, user story mapping helps you identify areas that are the most important to your users. You’ll know what features are most important, things that customers are asking for, and even areas where you’re lagging behind the competition.

Detect roadblocks

Another pattern you’re probably going to notice as you map our user stories is that there are areas where you need more information or bottlenecks are occurring. Catching these can help you come up with solutions and eliminate the frustration points that your users are experiencing.

Improve team-wide focus

User story mapping gives you a holistic view of your entire product and gives you and your team members a way to work with that big picture in mind. Rather than working on the bits and pieces in a vacuum, which can cause problems, your team knows how everything is supposed to connect, what the pain points each product feature or section solves, and what customers expect at each stage of using your product.

How to map user stories for your next project

Like a lot of important business tasks, putting together a user story map is a bit of a process, but it’s a worthwhile one. Any time you get to learn more about your users, what they expect, and how they typically use a product, the better.

Get to know your target users

The first step, not surprisingly, is getting to know your users. Ideally, this means talking to them and asking them questions about their needs, use cases, and any unmet needs they may have with existing products (or your own). If you can’t talk with them directly, check out user reviews for similar products. They can be an excellent source of information, especially around unmet needs.

Identify pain points

When you’re getting to know your users, you’ll start seeing common themes coming up around issues that people are having. These pain points tell what’s not working, what people are hoping to be able to do, and help you identify areas where you can work to exceed expectations.

Map user activities

Create a map of everything that users are going to be doing in your product. Start with the first step, signing up, and note each thing that users are going to be doing along the way. These activities are going to be different for each product, but if you’re building an invoicing platform, for example, you’ll be including things like adding new clients, creating invoices, setting up payment methods, sending invoices, marking invoices as paid, etc. The more steps you’re able to map, the easier the next step will be.

Map user stories under activities

Once you’re created the map of activities, add the user stories in the appropriate place. By doing this, you’re creating a list of user expectations at each stage of the journey, which makes it possible for you to build your product around those user stories.

Rank user stories

Ranking or prioritizing user stories help you focus on the most important details first. It might seem wrong to think that certain stories are more important, but the reality is that some are more important than others. The things that come up the most in conversations, for example, are going to be pretty important to most users. If you speak to 100 people, on the other hand, and only one mentions something, it’s probably not that important.
User stories can be ranked on a scale similar to must-have, nice to have, could have, and don’t need. You focus on the must-haves first and go from there.

Flag potential issues and propose solutions

As we mentioned, you’re going to identify issues users are having as you’re going through this process. Each time you identify a potential problem, stop and come up with a solution (and maybe even a backup solution). Solving these problems early on saves you from having to deal with larger issues after the fact.

Plan sprints

Now that everything is mapped, prioritized, and ready, start planning your sprints. Teams will now have a clear picture of what’s going on with the entire product and will be able to create a more cohesive product that’s focused on user needs.

👉 Get started with this story mapping template.
Copy this template

After you copy this template, you can start utilizing this free story mapping template for your projects and business.

Create a user story map with a template from Coda

Step 1: Create a Project & Defining Activities

Starting with the page, you can add a title to your project as well as a summary of what you are trying to achieve with the project. Every project has an end goal or a vision to be achieved, which is included in the summary
Next, you can add in in the table below where you can add different groups of tasks that need to achieved by different teams for the success of the project. Be sure to include details such as Name, Description, and Teams Involved.

Step 2: Tasks & Story mapping

In the next step of this template, you can visit the page where you can map out your project and it’s tasks. By clicking the Add Task button, you can define the task you want to add to a specific story of your project and set a stage for releasing it in Release. The larger the number in a release means it is lower priority and it will be released after other features are implemented.
In the , you can move different tasks around like a KanBan board to re- arrange specific tasks to different releases. This board will allow you to visualize what tasks your team is taking on and the priority of how they should be completed.

Extra Steps: Teams

In the page you can configure the different teams you may have in your organization to better manage your needs for your project.

More Coda templates you can leverage for your next agile or scrum project

The more templates you have at your disposal, the easier it is to take full advantage of agile and scrum methodologies. We’ve pulled together some of the best templates we have to help you get started.
Get started with scrum with our .
Design your product roadmap with this .
Make sure you’re focused on the right product features with our .
List out .
Craft the perfect release plan with our .
Pull everything together with our .
Finally, our helps you get started.

Story mapping template FAQs

What are the key parts of a user story map?

The answer to this varies a little, depending on the source, but there are typically three key parts of the user story. They are:
Activities - These are what your users want to do with your product. This includes everything from logging in to closing an account with you.
Steps - What does the user have to do to complete the activity?
Details - Finally, break down the activity into as many pieces as necessary to complete the activity. Break this down into as many steps as possible, as the more detail you can capture, the more accurate the user story will be.

What are some of the story mapping examples?

The best way to see what a user story looks like is to see it. The example below came from Jeff Patton, who’s credited with creating user story maps.

What are the limitations of the story mapping template?

The beautiful thing about templates is that you can customize them to suit your exact use cases. Not working with a template is far more limiting because you’re either using the original method, which is to arrange everything using sticky notes on a wall. Or, worse, you’re trying to organize it with a spreadsheet.

What’s the difference between story mapping and customer journey mapping?

These might seem like similar ideas, but they’re not. User story mapping is putting yourself in the shoes of your users as they use your product. With customer journey mapping, you’re plotting out what happens before someone becomes your customer. `
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