Making a backlog more visual
As a visual person and a product owner for two scrum teams, I find it difficult to work in my product backlogs. I recently started experimenting with emojis in Azure DevOps (a.k.a. TFS) to see if that could help. To my surprise, it did! In most cases, I was able to quickly identify the bigger theme the user story was a part of when scrolling through the backlog and scanning the emojis I had placed in the PBI titles.
Unfortunately, I was notified today by another member of the team that my beloved emojis were breaking some automated reporting functions that my organization had built into Azure DevOps. I'm still waiting to hear if Alt-codes or unicode characters may be permissible.
My questions is this. Do any other product owners struggle with a non-visual backlog? Are there any solutions out there to make DevOps' backlogs more visual?
i'm a little confused by the way you state this. Are you trying to make the backlogs more visual or more visually appealing? It also sounds like your challenge isn't visual as much as understandable. If you were using emojis for the purpose of linking stories to themes most tools allow for tags or linking of items. A very low tech alternative to your emojis is to use some sort of letter tagging. I used to put a keyword enclosed in brackets at the beginning of some backlog items subjects (i.e. [A1]) for the same purpose.
I have not used TFS in a while but every tool I have used recently allowed for customizing columns shown in your view. Using tags, keywords, components or whatever fields available to you and adding them to your view should also do the same. Plus it allows you to run queries and reports in most applications.