Story maps are one of the most generally useful techniques I know. They are essentially a framing and planning technique, but they are just as useful for ideation. They are also used as a design technique when working on prototypes, and they are great for communicating with your team and stakeholders. They also play a very practical role in managing and organizing your work. Further, a story map is helpful throughout product discovery and delivery.
I think you'll agree that's a lot of benefits. But the best part is how simple it is.
The origin of story maps came from frustration with the typical flat backlog of user stories. There's no context, just a prioritized list of stories. How can the team know how one story fits in with the big picture? What does it mean to even prioritize at that granularity with so little context? And what set of stories constitutes a meaningful milestone or a release?
Jeff Patton, one of the early Agile thinkers, was frustrated by this, so he leveraged some proven UX design techniques, and adapted them to Agile concepts and introduced user story maps.
These are two‐dimensional maps, in which major user activities are arrayed along the horizontal dimension, loosely ordered by time from left to right. So, if there are a dozen major user activities, they would be along the top from left to right, generally in the order ...