Discover User Story Mapping with

Elad Simon Published: 06 May 2022 Updated: 11 May 2023
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Each experienced PM is aware of the fact that an effective roadmap cannot exist without user stories. User story mapping techniques masterminds into a helpful model to comprehend the usefulness of the system, distinguish gaps and exclusions in your backlog, and adequately arrange all encompassing product releases that convey the value to the clients and business with each release.

When you craft a roadmap, you simply visualize the way you build your product based on the user stories of the highest priority. That is why a clear and effective user story mapping tool will be a must for those who dream to succeed in PM. To discover one of the most effective tools for making user stories into successful roadmaps is possible now!

What is User Story Mapping?

Story mapping is a top-down methodology of assembling the requirements and is formed as a tree hierarchy. Story mapping begins from an all-encompassing vision. A dream product is accomplished using objectives. Objectives are achieved through certain activities. Also, to finish an activity, the users need to run certain errands. Furthermore, these errands can be changed into client stories for the top product development with the help of effective story mapping software.

Story mapping is a great visual way of building your product backlog effectively. If you wanna learn to do that better, you will definitely need some user story mapping software. For your reference, you may have a look at a sample branch of storymapping from the real projects.

Let’s, for example, make an online application’s goal PM (workspaces)

Man working on blue, purple and yellow sticky notes being placed on a black board

Story Mapping Pros & Cons

Product backlog visual presentation is available to every one of the partners on the same page, as far as the scope and complexity are concerned. A view of a project size is additionally given.

  • Requirements caught in a physical organization encourages coordinated effort and constructs shared comprehension.
  • As far as inception is typically a time boxed movement, the story mapping approach serves to plunge profoundly into and concentrate on critical components of the application. Checking ‘good to have’ highlights as ‘out of view’ amid profound plunge sessions, helps the group to save their time.
  • Oddly enough, but having all stories gathered on the blackboard enables the group to perform relative estimation of the stories extremely rapidly.
  • The structure of the story map assists with prioritization and offers simple backlog slicing into releases and tailors out MVP (minimum viable product). Slicing should be possible both horizontally and vertically, for example, few components or more with MVP in every feature.
  • Story map can be adjusted to agile story mapping software like Craft

At some point we may require more data to be caught with story map: ‘good to have’ stories, follow up inquiries, alternative methodologies… This includes improving your story map with more various data. It is easy when you make your story map physically visual on the wall, floor or a board because you can mark various components with different colours to represent the variety of levels. It is visually effective to put the wire frames next to the relevant story map areas. Stickers like dots are used to mark specific data like:

  • scope features that are extremely important for the shared understanding,
  • search of alternatives to reach out the user experience or low-cost solutions, etc.

Notes, assumptions, questions or follow-ups may be marked with the small stickers and so on. But how can you do the same virtually? Of course, effective story mapping tool will be in handy.

Sticky notes organized in different releases


How to Write Epics and User Stories

Up to this point, we’ve been focusing on grouping together user stories to help with visualizing a plan to build or improve a product. But let’s take a step back and discuss what we mean by user story, what we mean by epic, and how to write each of these essential agile assets. Only when we truly understand these concepts and how they fit together in the product’s hierarchy can we fully grasp the value of user story mapping — and the importance of having the best user story mapping tool.

You can think of a user story as the smallest unit of development work that can enable a user to complete a specific task. In other words, user stories describe self-contained work that create entirely new capability in the product.

Agile product teams have devised a clever way to create user stories more rapidly and to ensure each story they create actually solves a real problem for a user persona. The formula is a fill-in-the-blanks exercise to create a short, plain-language statement. It looks like this:

As a [user persona’s job title or personal description], I want to [solution] so that I can [new capability or improvement to existing process].

An epic describes a larger set of related capabilities — where each of those individual capabilities is a user story. You can write your epics using a similar fill-in-the-blanks statement, and both the solution and new-capability blanks you craft should suggest multiple user stories.

In other words, a single epic will contain multiple user stories. Or, if you prefer to visualize it this way, multiple related user stories will roll up to a single epic.

With that in mind, take another look at the image above showing the user story mapping example of a team working on an email and calendar application. Under the large strategic initiatives at the top, for example, you’ll see Organize Email. And under that, the “File Emails” note represents an epic, and that epic is comprised of several user stories — Move Emails and Create Sub-Folders.

Filing an email in your inbox for longer-term storage could mean a couple of things, including moving the messages to an existing folder or creating new folders where you can archive an email that doesn’t fit naturally in any of your current folders.

A user story mapping example

Let’s briefly review another example of how useful story mapping exercise starts with crafting relevant epics and user stories. We’ll use a hypothetical product team working for a large coffee-store chain — and trying to add value to their mobile app for ordering ahead of arrival.

The functionality they’re focused on now is filtering capability in the app. Their epic crafting process might go like this:

As an [ABC Coffee mobile-app user], I want to [quickly narrow my search for products] so that I can [more quickly find and order the food and beverages I want in the app, as I make my way to the store for pickup].


Filter items in search

 User stories:

  • Filter drinks only
  • Filter food items only
  • Filter items purchased recently
  • Filter “Favorite” items

If this product team were brainstorming multiple epic-level items, they would perform the same exercise for each. They would first draft a simple statement articulating the value of the epic, and then perform the same exercise for each of the user stories that fall under that epic. Then they would map out this work by visually placing epics and user stories in the appropriate hierarchy as cards on a board in the user story mapping format we’ve illustrated here.

Roadmapping Challenge Tips

No matter how you do your story map, there are certain challenges you may come across and, thus, will need some tips to overcome them. These are useful tips on how to avoid the hardships and run your physical story mapping successfully.

Since making a map of stories is quite a discovering phase of your work for the product requirements, to succeed, you simply should follow certain algorithm of capturing everything from A to Z, including alternatives, to avoid the time waste and long-running debates with your development team members.   So, here we go:

  1. You should make priorities of your deep dives, so that not to waste time on less relevant topics and to abstain from investing energy in less significant points. Organize profound jumps here and there.
  2. Clean up and improve your markers more often before it becomes huge and turns out to be extremely hard to oversee. Keep a wide space on your wall empty to add something any time.
  3. While working with any marker with stickies, try to clean carefully up those that you do not need to get rid of folds.  They may be present on your story mapping spot for long activity duration and interfere with it. Make sure there are no folds readable on photos too.


Effective story mapping is a viable starting point in organization of your backlog and the product roadmap in an outwardly organized manner. It is a product discovery tool that helps to make a requirements understandable, build its common comprehension, distinguish crevices the gaps in backlog and catch the interdependencies, better perform the relative estimation. Further, it can likewise help with the backlog slicing into the timely releases and other arrangement activities.

To step up to a higher level in digital product management, you are welcome to discover online user story mapping tools that are easy to use and extremely effective for your business. Do not forget to include them in your everyday tool list and use on the regular basis

BONUS: get this Agile user story sample for free at

Elad Simon
Elad Simon

CEO & Co-Founder,