2 October 2018

What is User Journey Mapping?

 

It can be easy to forget about the people who are actually going to use your product or service when you’re designing it. But, they are arguably the most important part of the process – if your users don’t like or even know how to use your product, then your efforts are in vain.

User journey mapping puts users at the forefront of design, helping you understand where they are coming from and what they want to achieve. Done properly, user journey mapping ensures anyone that uses your product will be able to accomplish their goals as easily as possible.

UX notebook

So, what is user journey mapping?

Also known as customer journey mapping, this involves creating a visualisation of how users may interact with your product or service. This usually means creating a timeline of touchpoints that illustrate how and where the interaction takes place. Commonly, these take two main forms:

  1. How users currently interact with your product
  2. How users could interact with your product

User journey mapping will help you gain valuable insight into how customers access and experience your product, highlighting potential issues to address. You may discover that the navigation is difficult to use or some features do not translate well from desktop to mobile, for instance. Uncovering challenges at this stage will allow you to amend them before the final product is launched.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of customer journey mapping extend beyond highlighting potential problems, though. Illustrating what you want your product to help users achieve will provide a solid vision for it, which helps to draw focus and avoid distractions throughout its development. It also facilitates better collaboration across teams, ensuring they are all working towards the same goal.

Mapping how your users behave will help you better understand them, particularly what motivates them and their emotions. Empathising with your users is the best way to deliver value to them. By analysing how they feel at each stage of the journey, you’ll be able to anticipate how they will react and create a product that resonates with them.

User journey mapping also allows you to improve customer service by identifying any gaps in the journey and opportunities for improvement. Mapping will reveal areas that are time-consuming or frustrating for users, which can be revised and streamlined to provide a great customer experience.

UX meeting

How to create a user journey map

Now we’ve established the importance of customer journey mapping, how exactly do we go about creating one? While the method may vary between organisations, there are a few key things you need to get you on your way.

Research

Researching your users is crucial to understanding them. You want to gather as much feedback as you can about your product from users, which you can do in various ways. From qualitative methods, like surveys and interviews, to quantitative, like web analytics, there are many ways to gain insight into your customer base.

This research should provide context as to why users are engaging with your brand and what they want to achieve from it, as well as any pain points they encounter. Different cohorts will have different motivators, goals and challenges, which should be treated equally.

Personas

You can’t map user journeys without any users. Personas are profiles based on the characteristics of different users, usually generated from existing data about your customers. We’d recommend creating a variety of personas to cover all bases and help you understand a range of use cases for your product or service. Once you’ve identified your personas, you can map each out individually to assess how each will interact with your brand. The ideal way to write personas is to base it on research and knowledge about real users.

UX post-it notes

Touchpoints

Each time a customer interacts with your brand is known as a “touchpoint”. In order for every user to achieve their goal, they must go through a series of touchpoints. To map their journey, you should make a list of all the touchpoints users will encounter on the way, both offline and online.

For a website, this could be signing up for a newsletter, creating an account, buying a product, and so on. The size of your list will vary depending on the service you offer, but it is important to be thorough, so you don’t miss any opportunities for improvement.

Barriers

With your research completed, touchpoints identified and personas created, you can then uncover barriers in the customer journey. It’s particularly useful to spot patterns of behaviour across your personas, as this will highlight pain points you should focus on. Beyond these patterns, each persona should reveal something different to address, which should be prioritised in order of importance or top tasks.

UX notepad

When should you map user journeys?

User journey mapping typically happens near the beginning of a project to help identify user requirements and shape the design process. They can always be revisited further down the line to scope out any additional needs and ensure the design is on the right track.

However, your customer journey map shouldn’t be left once it’s completed. As your users will constantly change, your map should evolve alongside them. It should be a living document that grows and develops to ensure you’re always delivering the best customer experience possible.

User journey mapping is essential for understanding your customers and identifying any pain points that stop them from achieving their goals. An essential step in the design process, our UX team can help you build personas and identify how users interact with your brand, both on and offline. Get in touch with us today!

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