What is Story Mapping?

Ruben Buijs
August 10, 2023

Story mapping is a visual technique used in product management to organize and prioritize the development of features and user stories. It helps teams gain a shared understanding of the product and its user journey by creating a holistic view of the product's functionality.


Let's say you are developing a mobile banking app. To create a story map, you start by identifying the main activities a user can perform, such as account registration, fund transfers, bill payments, and account statements. Each of these activities becomes a "user activity" on the story map. Under each user activity, you break down the specific tasks or user stories required to complete the activity, such as entering account details, selecting a recipient, and confirming the transfer.


Story mapping is crucial for product managers as it helps them understand the big picture of the product's functionality and the user experience. By visualizing the product's features and user stories, it becomes easier to identify dependencies, prioritize work, and communicate with stakeholders. It allows the team to focus on delivering value to the users by building the most valuable features first.

How to Use Story Mapping

  1. Identify user activities: Begin by identifying the main activities or tasks users need to accomplish within your product.
  2. Break down user stories: Under each user activity, break down the tasks or user stories required to complete them.
  3. Arrange user stories: Arrange the user stories in a logical sequence within each activity, from left to right, to depict the user journey.
  4. Prioritize: Collaboratively prioritize the user stories based on their importance and value to the users.
  5. Visualize dependencies: Identify any dependencies or relationships between user stories and represent them on the story map.
  6. Refine and iterate: Continuously update and refine the story map as you gain more insights and feedback from users and stakeholders.

Useful Tips

  • Keep the story map simple and easy to understand. Avoid including unnecessary details.
  • Involve the entire team in creating and updating the story map to ensure a shared understanding.
  • Use color coding or icons to represent different types of user stories or their status (e.g., to-do, in-progress, done).
  • Regularly review and update the story map to reflect changes in priorities or user needs.
  • Use the story map as a visual aid during meetings and discussions to facilitate better communication.

Related Terms


What is story mapping?

Story mapping is a visual way to organize and prioritize the features or user stories of a product. It helps teams to understand the big picture and create a shared understanding of the product's requirements.

How does story mapping work?

Story mapping involves creating a horizontal axis representing the user's journey or workflow and a vertical axis representing the priority or hierarchy of the features. User stories or tasks are then placed on the map according to their position in the workflow and their importance.

What are the benefits of story mapping?

Story mapping helps product managers and teams to visualize the entire product and its features, identify gaps or missing functionality, prioritize tasks, and communicate the product vision effectively. It also allows for iterative and incremental development.

Who typically creates a story map?

Story maps are usually created collaboratively by the product manager, development team, and other stakeholders such as designers, marketers, and customers. It is a cross-functional activity that encourages shared understanding and collaboration.

What are the key components of a story map?

A story map typically consists of user activities or epics, user stories or tasks, and the corresponding prioritization or hierarchy of those tasks. It may also include additional information like acceptance criteria, dependencies, and user personas.

How often should a story map be updated?

A story map should be updated regularly, especially when new insights or changes occur. It is a living document that evolves with the product, reflecting the current understanding of the team and the product's development.

Can story mapping be used in agile development?

Yes, story mapping is widely used in agile development methodologies. It helps teams to plan and prioritize their work, break down features into manageable user stories, and track progress throughout the development process.

Are there any recommended tools for story mapping?

There are several tools available for story mapping, both online and offline. Some popular options include Miro, Trello, Jira, and physical whiteboards. The choice of tool depends on the team's preferences and collaboration needs.

What are some common challenges in story mapping?

Some common challenges in story mapping include ensuring all stakeholders have a shared understanding, managing the complexity of large or complex projects, and incorporating feedback and changes effectively. Regular communication and collaboration can help address these challenges.

Is story mapping only useful for software products?

No, story mapping can be used for any product or project that involves understanding user needs and prioritizing features or tasks. It is commonly used in software development but can be applied to various industries and domains.