We are trying to do a story mapping session for a new project (a student portal).

Since this is my first time doing this and we don't have a business analyst in the team that could help me, I'm struggling with how to write the epics and the user stories. I've seen examples of these but for eCommerce or an email (example attached below).

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I would like to know how would you write the epics or user stories for a student portal? What would you write? has anyone here have experience with this that could provide me some initial map or idea?

For example: In our student portal students should login, go to classes, view school news, etc. How could this map to epics and user stories?

4 Answers 4


I think you are probably on the right track - Write a narrative, a step by step from one person's perspective from Logging in, to getting familiar with the portal, to finding what they need, and submitting data (course changes, questions) These are steps going across as a testable, demonstrable, potentially releasable plan.

the way to divide it up into columns is to find the themes emerging. the Story to change a password is similar to changing their username, both for Account Setup. So you may end up with a Epic for Account Setup.


You want to do this from the point of view of the user. Imagine one of the students is sitting down with you explaining what they would use the portal for. For example, a student might say something like this:

"Those first couple days of classes are so confusing. I can never remember the exact times and classroom numbers of my classes. I wish I could just look them up quick on my phone. Oh, and I never realize I've forgotten the classroom until right before class, so it can't be a pain in the butt to navigate to the information."

Great, now let's turn that into a user story:

As a new student new to a class, I want to be able to quickly access the time and location of my classes so that I don't have to remember them.

That last sentence I don't think I'd even try to phrase in the "As a, I want, so that." form. I'd just present exactly that problem to the team and brainstorm some ideas to solve it.

Rapid/Paper Prototypes

I highly recommend making use of simple paper prototypes. This will allow you to play ideas out quickly and you'll find usability flaws and opportunities long before you invest a lot of time and money building the application.


This write-up is, in my opinion, the best intro to story mapping at agilevelocity.com, [2017-08-09]:

Story Mapping 101, By David Hawks

I did extensive search for various ways to understand story mapping. This blog post was the best source I could find. Here is a sum up of the strongest points, most relevant to answer the question:

Initial story map draft

  • Try to convey the sense of a workflow.
  • Try to recognize and avoid gaps so that the business contexts remains clear.
  • Jeff Patton coined the idea of story maps aiming to tackle user experience requirements.
  • Develop the requirements in collaboration with the stakeholders.
  • Walk through the problem, with the Subject Matter Experts (SME) to tell a story of activities and tasks they would perform. If there's more than one SME have each to write and then merge stories together.
  • Use post-it notes to pin the story horizontally to the wall: this is a draft, to be re-shaped.

Creating a working story map

  • You should already have a set of activities and tasks on board.
  • Group activities to be done together, or if you have options to follow a certain path.
  • Search for gaps in stories. View as different user personas, and scenarios.
  • Detect important items and set on top position on board.
  • Place levels of priority vertically: must, should, could.
  • Now your map should allow different iterations. Estimate and refine your work scope.


  • Showing the progression to stakeholders helps to keep track of progress.
  • Tracking changes at sprint reviews is more informative than communicating backlog.
  • You not only keep track of requirements but also give continual visibility.
  • Also check how to transform a backlog into a story map: Course 201.

Also, with more time and detail, I strongly recommend Jeff Patton' book: User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product.


I wanted to ask a question somehow associated to what's being dicsussed here. We have ran a design sprint after the end of which we managed to test a simplified flow of the designs elaborated with 14 users. We are now bringing those learnings into the design making sure that we address those feedback in the design.

QUESTION: how would you move from the design into planning the dev work? I was thinking of running a similar activity to a story mapping mentioned here, taking the designs as starting point breaking it down by key Tasks with the steps associated to it.

Doe this make sense? Has anybody ran a similar exercise?

  • Great addition to the original question! It's been 4 years since I wrote this post and since then in my experience story mapping is an excellent activity that helps bridge the initial project definitions with creating an initial development backlog. I've also seen people creating the backlog with spreadsheets but story mapping being so visual and spatial has always worked very well for our teams. So well that other teams has followed this approach too! We always create a story mapping and then we start moving the epics and stories in the postits to a management tool like JIRA or Zenhub. Jan 28, 2023 at 15:04

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