In the world of agile software development, a user story is a vital tool when creating a product that fits the customer’s specifications to the letter. By shifting the focus away from writing about user requirements to instead talking about them, app developers can gain a more in-depth understanding of the system and its context. However, while creating a comprehensive set of user stories for each task is useful in itself, without a well-planned map, you are unfortunately going to make a rod for your own back. Acting as an invaluable visual representation of the project at hand, user story mapping should be considered by every agile developer, yet how exactly does it help?
What exactly is a user story map?
First developed by Agile expert Jeff Patton in 2005, user story maps act as a visual exercise that many developers utilise for their projects, helping a team to define the work that will result in the optimum user experience for the final product.
By arranging your user stories, whether through tried and tested sticky notes or by using a user map program, you can foster fluid communication between developer and customer. The format has been adopted by agile developers across the industry, using them to break down the customer journey into workable parts.
What are the benefits?
Taking the steps to create a quality user story map can offer developers a host benefits and acts as a great accompaniment for agile teams.
The big picture
If you had a choice between a well-crafted user story map and a dense, 50-page document highlighting various requirements, which would you rather have? By being able to view your requirements in a more holistic, digestible fashion, you can easily visualise both the product itself and the road map you’re working along which, in turn, increases productivity.
Prioritize and identify
Arguably the most critical benefit of utilising user story maps is the ease in which it is to sequence and prioritize essential requirements. In comparison to the somewhat clunky waterfall model of software development, Agile story maps help rank important features for completion and identify issues iteratively, allowing the system to work at a high level while being continually refined.
Communication is key when it comes to creating the perfect product for the client and, by utilising a user story map, you can keep customers abreast in a much more granulated way. As each requirement will be aligned to a specific release, your customer will have a much clearer understanding of what will be delivered and when, while also allowing them to reassess what they want to prioritise if needs be.
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