Ep09: TL;DR: Story Mapping

Story mapping is maybe the easiest tool to quickly and reliably elicit requirements. It’s my default that always delivers reliable results, not matter the situation.
Here is our 5 minute how-to.

Show Notes

Never heard of it?

A story map is a representation of features required to deliver a given experience.

Map out the user journey (process) horizontally and list for each process step (action) the required stories (think of them as features or part of features) vertically. Voilà.

Story maps are valuable because

  • They help us get clarity on what is needed
  • They help us find gaps
  • They focus us on end user value

Ok, how do we do them?

First: Map journey horizontally. Each step is an action:

Access website
Search products
Browse results
View / Select product
Check out

Second: Identify features required to support each action

View Select Product:

  • Image
  • Description
  • Chose product variant
  • Price
  • Checkout button / Basket
  • Product recommendations
  • Up/Cross-sell module

But don’t forget secondary user requirements: To provide the above experience sales, marketing, operations will have to do things, and require supporting features and capabilities:

  • Set up product

Third: Prioritise

Within each action, vertically stack features by priority / value.

A vertical slice across all actions gives you your release.

You can define a release goal for each slice if that helps and link this to sales / marketing goals.

Fourth: Delivery by slice / priority


  • Focus on the user (all users)
  • Focus on jobs / needs / gains / pains
  • Create multiple maps to make the overall product manageable
  • Identify dependencies
  • Make sure maps are end to end and each slice is narrative complete
  • Include UX and technology, work iteratively.


  • Be careful with using systems as actors (System does …). Try to stick with the user perspective
  • Abuse them to become a Work or Product Break Down structure. At best they are a feature breakdown.
  • Put technical tasks on the map
  • Don’t jump to solutions too early

Further interesting reading:

The Digital Business Analyst blog: Storymapping – a Guide

Adaptive Path: Anatomy of an Experience Map

The Digital Business Analyst blog: Why we should Visualise Requirements

The Digital Business Analyst blog: What makes Good User Stories

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