Story Spine

Understanding your customer’s journey is key knowing how you can create a product that will bring them value.  Story Spines are a quick activity to establish the stages a user will experience, what features will be introduce to them at each stage, and fill in any gaps in that journey.

Begin the story spine with an understanding of who will be using the product.  Establish what conditions, environment or mood they might be in as they go through each stage.  

Epic Spine

Also the name of the Crema’s fake band.

Use one color of sticky note to establish the Epic Spine.  

Quickly move through each feature that the customer will interact within a linear timeline. Then add the features that they will use over and over.  

Example: This might look like signing up for a twitter account as the linear timeline steps.  Then tweeting and reading tweets as the recurring activity. Finally settings as a management features

Story Columns

Off this top spine of epics, list down below the breakdown of the features and functionality that will be needed to support the outcome of those features.  Move fast.  This is just to set a base line for each person’s understanding.  This is NOT a finalized specification document. Its a shared understanding of how we think the user might interact with your tool.  

Examples: Twitter Auth Epic includes. Email, Password, Password confirmation, email verification, error handling, password reset, new account record, and success messaging.

Mission Critical Line

Next,  we’ll draw a line across the bottom, and challenge ourself to to ask, what is mission critical to the first release of the product.   This doesn’t mean that these ideas won’t be a reality at some point, but it does mean, we aren’t going to bit it all off at once.  

Example: Email and pass to create a new account are a must, but we could probably wait on some of the validation until the user base grows.  

Flag what’s Hard

Finally.  We’ll mark which features we believe are core to the unique value prop of the solution, and which features we believe pose the biggest risk or misunderstanding.

Example:  People don’t get following/followers and 140 characters (early twitter days).  Core is post and reading 140 character messages.

This board now sets the framework for our initial backlog of work.  Start with the core functionality and the biggest risks, and look to get prototypes or builds up quickly to test and learn.  

Interesting in Creating a Story Spine of your idea?  Sign up for our Design Sprints or Strategy and Alignment Sessions.

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