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Building a Minimum Viable Product with User Story Mapping

No matter which minimum viable product type you are interested in developing, implementing user story mapping technique always works as the backbone to eventually build a reliable MVP. Story mapping is a planning technique proposed by Jeff Patton in agile software development world. Instead of one-dimensional backlog, it is a top-down approach featuring two dimensions: user activities and the overall vision of the product. The following paragraphs describe the critical steps of this two-dimensional method.

Shinetech Digital Solutions introduces how to use user story mapping to help develop a minimum viable product.

Six Steps to Building a Minimum Viable Product with User Story Mapping

Step 1: Define the main objective of your product

The first question you should ask yourself is “what is the primary goal of my product?” This step allows you to better understand what your product does and the major problems it is able to solve. There is no standard for how you describe your goal, but it should be clear enough to fulfil customer requirements. For instance, a primary goal could be very user-oriented, such as “allowing users to get real-time update about their bookmarked flight ticket page”.

Step 2: Identify the core process of your product

The next step you should go through is to outline the main user flow in your product development process. The process is combined with several stages that the majority of users will reach. However, there is a rule of thumb you need to remember when breaking down the user flow. Think more about final task users will accomplish in each stage rather than pay more attention to particular features that trigger user behaviour. A typical user flow is the path you construct for the user to convert at a certain point.

Shinetech Digital Solutions introduces how to use user story mapping to help develop a minimum viable product.


Step 3: Divide the big task into small tasks at each stage

In most cases, it is impossible to just create one story that fits all task requirements in each phase of the process. Big tasks mainly reflect the milestones a user will achieve in the end, but it does not necessarily tell the whole “story” sometimes. Smaller tasks built under each big task give you a holistic vision about what exact functions your product provide and bring more flexibility when you want to adjust the MVP features.

Step 4: List all the features under each small task

Organizing a workshop or initiating some brainstorm session to gather all the important features is not a bad option. In fact, this is the time to boost your creativity. You can map out features as many as possible without any prioritization. However, features you note down should emphasize how they can help customers to solve their problems. As a result of this process, you have a couple of features placed under every small task.

Step 5: Prioritize the features inside of each task

The priority criteria are composed of several essential questions including:

  • ● How important is this feature for completing the process?
  • ● How often will the feature be used?
  • ● How much value will the feature bring to users?
  • ● How much damage will it cause if the feature is missing?
  • ● How risky is the feature?

There are many other questions you can incorporate into your priority factors where you can find in agile planning and development theories. Once you finish feature prioritization, you can rearrange your features from the top (with the highest priority) to the bottom (with the lower priority).

Step 6: Decide the MVP

Before defining the MVP, there is another step you need to take. Based on the rearrangement of all the features, your product development team should identify the significance of these features by recognizing these features as “must have”, “could have” and “will have”. On the other hand, as you have a basic user flow coupled with prioritized features, the product manager can draw a horizontal line on the map which divides the landscape into two parts. The upper section represents the minimum viable product you could consider developing. The features below the line draw an overview of long-term vision of your product, which should be completed later.

Shinetech Digital Solutions introduces how to use user story mapping to help develop a minimum viable product.


Providing minimum viable product development and experimentation, Shinetech Europe delivers MVP testing and validation services with a strong focus on building critical learning process for our clients. Contact us at +44 20 3170 8428 today to book a free consultation and let us know how we can help you.

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