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Visual Story Map Template

Visual story mapping gives you an overarching view of how different parts of your project come together. Follow a step-by-step process to plan out your story.

About the Visual Story Map Template

Visual story mapping provides product managers and team members with a clear and concise view of project goals, helping to ensure that everyone is on the same page. By creating a visual representation of how different elements of a project will work together, teams can more easily identify potential areas of conflict or confusion, and make necessary adjustments to ensure a smooth and successful outcome. Use this Visual Story Map Template to get started.

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What is a visual story map?

A visual story map is a way of understanding a complex project by breaking it down into four steps: Content, Audience, Story, and Tell. This method is known as the CAST method. By looking at a problem or project like a story, teams can get a high-level overview of those important questions — who, what, where, why, how? Visual story maps are particularly popular for mapping user stories. With story mapping, product teams can understand how individual user stories fit into the overall user experience. This helps them to prioritize which user stories to work on first.

A story map for a product is divided into smaller stories, each one associated with a bigger step in the customer journey. With a complete story map, the product team can see all the different ways a customer might interact with the product.

How does visual story mapping add depth to your ideas?

A visual story map is more than just a to-do list. Product managers can use visual story mapping to see multiple dimensions of information at once. This way, you can figure out how different parts will work together to create a successful product. Use the visual story map template to keep everyone on the same page and to have one accurate source for information about your projects.

What are the 4 benefits of using a visual story map?

  1. See the entire project journey. Plan out a project by giving a holistic view of the project including the types of tasks you must undertake to finish it, story viability, how stories unfold over a timeline, how stories are prioritized, and when you can expect each story to be finished.
  2. Foster collaboration. Story mapping is a great way to understand a project and get a complete picture. Use the visual story map template to assign stakeholders, give people ownership over their responsibilities, scope out projects, share learnings, and brainstorm.
  3. Conduct a gap analysis. You can avoid negative impacts on your customer and bottom line by bringing your teams together to add solutions to the workflow, brainstorm ideas, and identify missing features.
  4. Plan out timelines. These timelines can be used to estimate the duration of your project, which can help you determine the scope, assign roles, and budget accordingly.

What does CAST stand for?

Our Visual Story Map Template uses the CAST (Content, Audience, Story, and Tell). The CAST method was originally developed by Microsoft experts as a presentation method for Enterprise Architects. However, today it is used to build any persuasive story, including visual story maps. CAST is incorporated into our Visual Story Map Template as follows:

  • Content row: A lot of presentations have too much irrelevant content. The content must be focused on leading the audience to understand why and what they must do.
  • Audience row: What does your audience need to know in order to be motivated to take the desired action?
  • Story row: When you have a good understanding of what you want to say and who you want to say it to, you can focus on creating a story.
  • Tell row: The words and visuals you create should focus on conveying the story. Make sure the story can be told effectively in different formats and that it has the desired impact.

Why use the CAST model for visual story mapping?

Here’s why we recommend including the CAST model when creating a visual story map:

  • Easy to understand. CAST is a simple but effective way to create a visual story using design and storytelling. It is easy to follow and only requires a few steps.
  • Makes change happen. CAST is a simple, yet effective technique for communicating ideas in a way that will resonate with your audience and encourage them to take action. By using CAST for your story maps, you can create powerful, visual presentations that tell a complete story. This way, your product team will be better equipped to take action.
  • Based on scientific research. The CAST method is a scientifically-backed approach to product development that has been created by a team of visual experts over the course of 12 years. This method can help your team tap into the power of research in psychology, linguistics, design, and education to create more effective products.

Create your own visual story map

Here's how to create a visual story map using our template:

  1. Start with the Content row. In this row, you need to be clear about what the story is about.

    The Content row has 4 sections: Why, What, How, and What If.

    • Why: The key issues that are forcing the change need to be explained here in order to give a clear reason to act.
    • What: This is the thing that will be changed.
    • How: In order for change to occur, identify specific actions that must be taken.
    • What if: What will be the outcome of this change? What will the future look like if the change is successful? What would happen if there was no change?
  2. Move on to the Audience row. Try to understand your audience so you know how to interact with them.

    There're 2 sections in the Audience row:

    • Who: what is your target audience?
    • Learning and decision styles: learn to analyze your audience more deeply. Try to predict how they will react to what you give them based on different patterns in their behavior.
  3. The Story row. Create a unique, impactful story.

    The Story involves 4 elements:

    • Structure: Decide on the structure for your story.
    • Character: Create the characters to which your audience will relate on some level.
    • Sense of urgency: Make a plot for your characters and think of a reason that will make your audience keep on following the storyline.
    • Delivery plan: The sequence of people, places, and events that you choose to tell your story can have a big impact on your audience.
  4. The Tell row. Now it's time to start putting all the parts together to tell the story.

    • Design: The way you present your story will determine how you influence your audience.
    • Test: is your story good enough to influence your audience.

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