I would like to create a map of the web application that we are building at the company that I work at. I'd like to stress that it HAS to be physical, so not created digitally. I feel that paper, scissors and tacks don't get enough love.

What I have in my head is a sort of 'detective board' like so:

enter image description here

I want to do this to create a shared sense of what we have and add 'clues' or in our case 'ideas' to certain elements of what is currently there. I'd start out with screenshots of all of our screens and combining them in the central area of the board. I imagine then connecting elements (with strings perhaps) that relate to each other (through user flows for example, or shared design elements or actors that make use of them).

Has anyone done or seen something like this? I have trouble finding out more about it. I have found things like Creating a customer journey map and then elaborating it which is certainly useful, but more focused on other things than the current screens (more about persona's, user flows only, etc.). Which is fine and it may be far more fruitful not to focus on current screens.

Some questions about this:

  • Has anyone seen something like this done for web applications/SaaS products before?
  • What would you call this (to aid my Google detecting on the subject)?
  • What do you think about it?
  • Can you offer some alternatives maybe?

What you are describing sound very much like storyboarding which is a technique used in UX (and also in lots of other design disciplines like making Pixar movies) for mapping out flows, relationships and user experiences.

It can be done with post it notes, photographers, pen, paper or professional software.

Here is an example presentation on how to use storyboarding.


If you start researching the concept you will find tons of resources on how to manage the media, how to conduct sessions, and how to translate your storyboards rapidly into built UX's.

Unless you are emotionally wed to the 'detective' concept, I would suggest dropping it in favor of more contemporary concepts like narrative, story, experience, etc because while the metaphors of clues and investigation are useful but very often UX is a generative process of creating a user experience, rather than a detective-like forensic experience of piecing together what actually happened. It's the difference between looking forward and looking backwards in your creative process.

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Using a detective screen:

I have to agree with @Tohster, particularly when it comes to the detective concept. So, rather than attempting to encapsulate your work process into "detective" board (form) try to focus more on a visualisation method that is more likely to achieve your end goals.

Having being confronted with the same issue, I have learned that starting with clearly defined statment and defined goals helps a lot in understanding what is currently wrong and what needs to happen next.

The solution hinges on establishing a working definition or a product statement of your software; Its critical that each word, sentence and overall meaning of the definition is actionable; by that I mean you could either add a specific action to any component, describe a process or a goal and/or attache deliverables or work in progress items.

The definition could be laid out horizontally giving you the possibility to start using whatever you have (post-it, screenshots, new wires etc) to fulfil the product statement. below is roughly what I am thinking :

An Example of a working definition:

Eloqua Corp. is a marketing automation SaaS company which develops automated marketing and demand generation software and services for business-to-business marketers.

Source : Wikipedia

This definition translates to the following:

enter image description here

Using the above approach you can :

create a shared sense of what we have and add 'clues' or in our case 'ideas' to certain elements of what is currently there.

as well as few others:

  • Keeping a sense of the bigger picture.
  • Better understanding of constraints and limitations.
  • Alignment with business goals.
  • Better understanding of your target audience.

The only downside I can think of is you might runout of wall space so recycle and refresh often!

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