Story Mapping is a technique that product owners use to gather all of their user story elements while providing a bigger picture. This method is also useful for stakeholders who want to track the progress of their projects. The importance of online story mapping programs lies in the fact that they are great for working with teams who can't physically come together for a whiteboard session. These tools will help to develop story mapping skills to create a vivid, dynamic representation of the entire process of building and improving a product, service, or campaign.
Nowadays when users need help story mapping in the development stage of a product, they use agile tools and incorporate them into the flow of digital production for teams. This allows them to work with portable digital boards; thus giving every participant the opportunity to collaborate, and because they are digital, the work is always delivered in real-time. Storyboards of today are probably not what you’d envision, either—think of it like a visual way to organize information (not an infographic!).
Below outlines a few story mapping programs that will help you increase engagement and can create the “bigger picture” idea you’ve been lacking. The most surprising thing you’ll find? They aren’t all focusing on pictorial representations:
CardBoard is a design tool used specifically for story mapping because it allows distributed teams an opportunity to collaborate. In other words, it's a harmony of how we use Google Docs and Post-It Notes. Cardboard is in basic terms, a sticky note application that can be used for story mapping under the simple and fast concept of using sticky notes on a grid for better product storytelling. It is the digital version of having a physical board at the office and using Post-It's to create ideas and discuss in groups.
FeatureMap is a browser-based cloud tool that helps with the product management backlog, which is done by creating user stories online (it is similar to StoriesOnBoard, the next tool, as both of them are story-mapping programs). FeatureMap is a digital board for team collaboration in real-time where everyone can share updates of their work and the product owners have a complete visualization of the project. This allows for prioritizing and organizing the backlog, linking ideas, objectives, and consolidating client requests. It can be a great tool for connecting ideas with all the teams involved in a single project. Tip: FeatureMap will integrate with Trello and JIRA!
This one is probably the most comprehensive story mapping program out there. With StoriesOnBoard, you can create smaller sections of your user stories to set priority for the most urgent and important aspects of the project. The major features of StoriesOnBoard include endless storage space, adding tasks in the middle of an existing user story, and a clean interface with keyboard shortcuts. This tool is for teams looking for a user-friendly, highly accessible, and free storyboard tool.
Trello has all the features required for story mapping, but instead of robust images, it is a visual way to see lists. It is filled with lists and cards and allows comments, all making for quality, real-time discussions with the team. Managers can organize the backlog by adding due dates, creating checklists, labels, and it's even connected to Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive for ease when uploading files. Trello will ensure that all the members of the user team are connected as it hosts an app for all devices with iOs, Android, Windows software, and even Kindle Fire tablets.
The concept of UpWave is simple. It is a digital board with sticky notes for team collaboration in real-time. Just like most of the boards on this list, it has a drag & drop feature to add notes to plant and supervise your team’s activity. Some solid features of this story-mapping program are the text editor, note assignment, and the built-in calendar to help prioritize deliveries.
Craft is a powerful story-mapping program for product management, which allows “agile teams” to have a broader visual of story maps. It's flexible and easy to manage. Its main features include the structured visuals, the drag & drop feature, the mobility which allows changing and prioritizing tasks, the linking of stories and sub-stories, and the real-time collaboration between teams and managers which allow up-to-date interaction on the project.
Easy Agile for JIRA enables the creation of story maps easily and fast. It can be used by newbies or professionals, allows visualizing, supervising, and prioritizing the team's activity and their engagement with each task and the project as a whole, as well as checking on the team's progress. This tool is perfect for remotely sharing ideas and translating the product manager's vision to the team working to make it happen. Tip: Cardboard will integrate with JIRA if you’re really serious!
Backlogs are used to prioritize and organize all the steps in a project and even data collected. Sometimes this organization can be tough to grasp because everyone needs to be on the same page regarding where the project is and where it is going. Story mapping is the best way to split tasks and trace the performance of each team member involved with the development of a particular project.
With the development of technology, story mapping has gone from being an old-fashioned working method to being a real-time, collaborative tool for companies. These tools afford owners and project managers the opportunity to see work being carried out on a large scale, while helping the team understand and identify every task in the backlog, making the planning and delivery of each stage more efficient.
The story mapping tools mentioned above are reliable and enable stakeholders to grasp the speed of a team's progress and overall efficiency. They also enable project managers to check the status of the project, as well as signaling leaders to be more involved in the project and making any necessary changes to the existing framework. So get started, and let us know what you think in the comments below!
Image Credit: Craft screenshot from Quora.com, all other screenshots taken by author May 2017