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Summary: User-story maps help Agile teams define what to build and maintain visibility for how it all fits together. They enable user-centered conversations, collaboration, and feature prioritization to align and guide iterative product development.
In traditional product-development processes, teams often rely on wasteful and lengthy business requirements documents and functional design specifications to move from a vison for a digital product to outlining what it should include and how it should work. Instead of having an ongoing conversation about users, problems, ideas, and solutions, teams expect distributed documentation to suffice.
However, these documents usually fail; no one has the time or attention to read them, and even those who do read them end to end will likely come away with vastly different interpretations of what to build. Rather than propelling productivity, these heavy documents stifle creativity, communication, collaboration, and innovation from the start. As an alternative, user-story maps work much better as lightweight representations of the digital product that an Agile team intends to build.
User-Story Mapping Defined
Definition: User-story mapping (also known as user-story maps, story maps, and story mapping) is a lean UX-mapping method , often practiced by Agile teams, that uses sticky notes and sketches to outline the interactions that the team expects users to go through to complete their goals in a digital product.