How to build a user-centered backlog

I’m going to explain how to write a user story map.

Story maps are a tool for framing product requirements in a user-centered way.

Unfortunately, most product backlogs are feature or solution-centered, but raw unsolved problems are the root of innovation.

If you learn this, you’ll strengthen your understanding of your user’s problems, and become a better product leader.

This is why user and journey-centered product leadership is better than delivery or solution-centered leadership.

  • If you keep making a better X, you’ll miss disruptive opportunities
  • Understanding problems allows you to design solutions

We’re going on a journey of journeys that’ll help you lead your product to new heights with user-centered thinking.

Here’s how:

Take an important function your user has, and write it down.

As an entrepreneur opening a business, one “journey” is attaining a business license.

Other examples: Get the groceries home, checkout at the coffee shop.

Journey maps are great for visualizing high-level flows, but they don’t go to the step-by-step detail that the user story map does.

Research the license requirements for a business operating at my address.

Other examples: Open the car trunk, get out my payment method, etc.

Small things that a user may do in completing that step.

By this point, the problem is specific and the solution may be obvious.

As an entrepreneur, I need to download the license application for my business’s city, so I can fill it out and submit it.

Others: Open the trunk door with my voice. Biometrically access my credit cards.

Here’s when we start to think of solutions; the tactical common denominator between users’ experiences and the features we build.

We can imagine the solution even if there isn’t one already.

This post was created with Typeshare



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Luke Manimala

Chicago-based product designer. I am working to find the story and value in every product through thoughtful execution and innovative design.