A lot of planning goes into building a website from the ground up. There are multiple steps that come before the development process can actually begin. There’s a delicate balance between the design team, the client, and the developers, but there’s one step that requires everyone’s participation: user story mapping. With this Agile approach, all project teams come together to determine the project’s goals. The methods used to achieve those goals are organized into “sprints.” During the sprints, developers work hard to reach a single milestone of the project and then move on to the next sprint. This divides the workflow into digestible segments that clients can review in a timely manner.


What is a User Story?

A user story explains visitors’ possible interaction(s) with your website. User stories follow a common format:

As a [type of user], I want to [action] so that [purpose].

Before you start creating user stories, it’s important to know who’s coming to your website. A great way to figure this out is to create buyer personas. A buyer persona is a profile of your ideal customer(s). These profiles include everything from a customer’s hobby to their job level. This information comes from marketing research and first-hand knowledge of the target audience. In each profile, distinguish the customer’s purpose in coming to your website. This will help you form a solid user story.

In addition to the basic user information, it’s important to include acceptance criteria in your stories. Acceptance criteria are conditions that must be met in order to complete the story. For example, the user must enter a username and password to make a purchase.


User Story Mapping

User story mapping is meant to be a collaboration with all team members involved in a project to ensure consistency and feasibility. Once you know your target audience, it’s time to create your user stories, and the simplest way to keep track of all those stories is with a bunch of sticky notes and a big wall. Consider using multicolored sticky notes to show separate personas. One persona may have multiple user stories since they’ll probably take more than one action on your site.

For a website redesign, organize your user stories by each page on the website. These top-level categories are known as “epics.” Each epic is broken down into component user stories. With this organization, you’ll be able to see each user story in the context of the whole website.

After a long session of discussing user stories, your map might look something like this:

User story map example.


Benefits of User Story Mapping

Once you’ve filled an entire wall with sticky notes, take pictures and keep it up as long as possible. Your team can always refer to it later or change things around if needed. Translate that information into a digital format, like a spreadsheet, for other teams to view. User stories will help you organize a project timeline and prioritize sprints.

Many teams struggle to write strong user stories. Mapping provides a visual representation of the project’s layers and offers context in terms of the visitor’s journey on your website.

Finally, mapping gives project teams the chance to come together and collaborate. Everyone can come to a consensus on project goals and methods from the onset. Furthermore, with multiple teams on one project, mapping allows you to build strong relationships with clients and partners.

With each project, we work with a design team to decide whether or not a design is feasible from a development perspective. Clients are involved in every step to review the project’s progress. As a development team, user stories help us organize our workflow. It’s a lot more encouraging to work towards smaller milestones as opposed to one looming deadline. Talk to us about your next development project. We work with the best design agencies in Atlanta, and we’re ready to build the website you want.

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