re: How to begin a project with just an idea VIEW POST


I love using story maps. When done properly, they literally lay out a product and development roadmap before you. I was going to describe it in my own words, but it's probably best to quote a great article on the subject:

Arranging user stories into a helpful shape – a map has worked well for me.

It’s a simple idea really. A small story map might look something like this:


At the top of the map are “big stories.” I call them user activities (borrowing the term from UX people like Larry Constantine and Don Norman). An activity is sort of a big thing that people do – something that has lots of steps, and doesn’t always have a precise workflow. If I was building an email system (which I’d never be foolish enough to do) I might have an activity called: “managing email”, and “configuring email servers”, and “setting up out of office responses.”

A story for an “activity” might read: As a consultant I want to manage my email so I can keep up with clients, colleagues, and friends.

But that’s way too big of a story to put into an iteration or sprint.

That story breaks down into other stories like “send message,” “read message,” “delete message,” “mark message as spam” – stuff like that. I call these user tasks. (Again a word used by UX people.) For lots of Agile people “tasks” refer to the things that developers do to finish user stories. Really a task is something that someone does to reach a goal. A user task is what users do to reach their goals, developer tasks are what developers do to create stories, Ant tasks are what ant does to… well… do whatever you’re doing with Ant.

I simply arrange the small things under the big things in a bit of a grid form.


Another very important guideline for early-stage projects, is to have a strong understanding of why it's worth implementing specific features or doing things a certain way. Usually it's easy to justify this why (or why not) if you've done the research :).

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