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Travel Notes: Taking a step back with Applied User Story Mapping

Yesterday I attended a workshop my friend Folkert invited me to join. A workshop with a very long title, focused on product design. Since I'm working on this product idea (working title: travel notes), I guessed it might be fun to see how other's do it. Today I took a step back to the drawing board and tried the method evangelically proposed by AJ&Smart's JC himself. And I loved it!

My blog is not very suited to it, but I’m going to try and make this post visual. Because that’s what today mainly was about: getting out all my ideas and make a choice on what to prototype.

Applied user story mapping

So I don’t want to talk too much about the idea of Applied USM. Let me just show you what I did and you might get the idea. The steps in short:

  1. Create the backbone of the process: the user’s journey. A chronological list of steps or actions the user would take.
  2. Group the actions.
  3. Brainstorm by adding as much ideas to the actions as possible
  4. Vote and arrange the ideas
  5. Prioritise!

And this how it’s done (by me, today 8-). Off course it’s better to do this in a group. You’ll definitely get a wider range of views and ideas if so. And off course I already had a lot of ideas in my mind. Still I surprised myself a tiny bit in the end!

1. User journey

As you might already know my idea for Travel Notes has come from my own personal travel journey. So what you’re seeing here is mostly based on my 4 month trip to South America last year.

Travel Notes User Journey - Idea and preparation phase (step 1)
Travel Notes User Journey - Idea and preparation phase (step 2)
Travel Notes User Journey - Idea and preparation phase (step 3)
Travel Notes User Journey - Idea and preparation phase (step 4)

2. Grouping the actions

As you could see in the pictures, I kept it simple:

  1. The idea phase
  2. Preparation
  3. Actual travel
  4. Post travel

3. Brainstorm

Quantity is more important than quality. As I was on my own I took quite a lot of time for this phase. The only limitation I set was the amount of blue post-its I had.

Travel Notes Brainstorm phase: adding as much ideas as possible

4. Vote and arrange ideas

I put little asterisks on the ideas I liked best. All me, so no real limit on votes here. Normally everyone would get a limited set of dots to stick to their favourite ideas. The ideas with the most votes get through to the prioritisation phase.

5. Prioritise!

So here I took the highest voted ideas (all of them ?) and put them on a scale: Impact vs. Effort. The idea is to pick the ideas with the highest impact and the least impact. So the upper left quadrant in the scale.

What surprised me here was my choice for photos over sharing. Because sharing is one of the key features of my concept. But nope. The impact might be big, but the effort’s too. So you’re out, sharing! *BAM*

Off course I’ll have to feature the sharing part. But not now. First I’ll go for photos, because it’s a (presumably) easy addition with a (presumed) big impact. First let’s get that in order, than sharing will get it’s chance!

What’s next?

That’s it. Now I’ll get back to building something. I’ll spend the next few weeks to build these three ideas. When I have them prototypically ready, I might return to a session like this. And as I’m writing this, I think I would like to invite some people to join me!

If you’re interested in helping me out in a next ideation session like this. Give me a shout!



PS Be sure to check out AJ&Smart. Thanks for the inspiration, guys!