How to Use Journey Maps to Design Digital Experiences

Scenarios and task flows have historically been used to help elucidate the user’s experience in specific use cases, but what if a project entails a redesign of a process that takes place over several days or across touchpoints? A journey map can help with that.

Journey maps can be used to identify problems in a cross-channel user experience, pinpoint areas where a new digital solution can solve problems, or to align internal teams across a unified marketing strategy.  At TandemSeven, we help with all of these, but the type of projects we do most frequently use Journeys to help design or redesign a digital experience. Creating user journeys are beneficial for designing an experience that has many steps and can take more than a single visit to your app or website or happens across multiple channels and touchpoints over time.

The user journey is a collection of tasks and scenarios, but also has the addition of insights from the qualitative research – i.e., pain points, emotions, questions, goals, and actions. Layer in some quantitative metrics and the Journey Map superpowers your insights and helps justify design decisions, and sell your design all in one powerful visualization!

Think about the difference between the entire mortgage process from beginning to end versus the part of the process where the user is filling out the application to get prequalified. Both could benefit from a user journey even though one takes many days and the other one hopefully only takes 15 minutes or so. The user journey will give you insight into the actions they are taking and in what order, how they are feeling, what their goals are, what information they need, and their expectations for how the process should work.

It can also be useful on the journey to map other types of research findings from surveys, NPS scores, internal KPI’s, etc. to illuminate the existing pain points and important moments in the journey you need to focus on in your design. Be sure to use the user’s language you heard (this will be key in naming conventions and labeling in navigation, etc.).

The ways that user journeys have helped me to create a design include seeing the order of the steps the user takes, what tasks can be grouped together, what the foremost goals are in their minds and how to write marketing messages and copy that appeal to the user. When you see a huge pain point in the journey, you have extra leverage to create a more automated or seamless experience which may require extra effort for the technology or operations teams to get right, but smoothing that rough patch can go a long way to make your experience stand out and be delightful to avoid your customers sending you negative tweets.

Your Journey Map can include stories to give context, or be a summary of the user’s actions and behaviors. They also greatly complement your Personas in giving the project team a one-page visualization of the customer’s perspective. Journey Maps usually cover more than one task and scenario, but you can also put a microscope on a process that may take your users more time and steps to accomplish.

Journey Map

Let’s look at an example mortgage website, and how the journey almost makes the experience design itself!

I started by mapping out the journeys of two personas: a First-time Homebuyer, and an Experienced Home Buyer. It became clear to me that their journeys are somewhat similar, with the more experienced home buyer relying less on the up front learning than a first time home buyer needs to do. They both tended to have similar questions in their minds as they were starting the home buying process like –  “How much home can I afford?” and “what will my monthly payment be?” Mapping out the phases and steps the user takes, and the questions, concerns and pain points helped to give me ideas for how to organize the mortgages home page and the order of the steps in the flow.

Since this is a process that takes place over many days, or weeks, the user needed to be able to quickly pick up where they left off the last time they visited the site without much effort. Another important learning is that people tended to use different devices at different points in the process. They might start their research on their phone, then finish up on their iPad or laptop. This supported the effort to create a responsive web experience that was consistent across devices.

I was able to make the most commonly used tools and questions users had easily accessible.  We realized that first time home buyers need a little more education about the home buying and mortgage process, so adding a “how it works” section with video for the younger buyers would set them up for success. Experienced homebuyers can skip that and go directly to comparing rates, or using some of the calculators they were interested in, then get prequalified.

The Design

If you notice – I actually organized the content and tools into a 4-step process that mirrors the user’s actual journey. Frankly, talking to people and creating this user journey made the design process so easy. There is no guesswork and agonizing over the design and what would work well for people, it is all right in front of you. This helps to gain buy-in for your design decisions from stakeholders, and provide insightful and credible reasoning for the design.

Even if you only have a few hours to quickly sketch out your user’s journey, it is an immensely useful exercise to put you in the mindset of the people experiencing the product or service you need to design. It is extremely important in User Experience Design to talk to and observe users by doing research, but Journey Mapping is the tool that helps you translate your research findings into an amazing, intuitive design. It is hard to imagine doing UX design without it.

Scenarios and task flows have historically been used to help elucidate the user’s experience in specific use cases, but what if a project entails a redesign of a process that takes place over several days or across touchpoints? A journey map can help with that.

Journey maps can be used to identify problems in a cross-channel user experience, pinpoint areas where a new digital solution can solve problems, or to align internal teams across a unified marketing strategy.  At TandemSeven, we help with all of these, but the type of projects we do most frequently use Journeys to help design or redesign a digital experience. Creating user journeys are beneficial for designing an experience that has many steps and can take more than a single visit to your app or website or happens across multiple channels and touchpoints over time.

The user journey is a collection of tasks and scenarios, but also has the addition of insights from the qualitative research – i.e., pain points, emotions, questions, goals, and actions. Layer in some quantitative metrics and the Journey Map superpowers your insights and helps justify design decisions, and sell your design all in one powerful visualization!

Think about the difference between the entire mortgage process from beginning to end versus the part of the process where the user is filling out the application to get prequalified. Both could benefit from a user journey even though one takes many days and the other one hopefully only takes 15 minutes or so. The user journey will give you insight into the actions they are taking and in what order, how they are feeling, what their goals are, what information they need, and their expectations for how the process should work.

It can also be useful on the journey to map other types of research findings from surveys, NPS scores, internal KPI’s, etc. to illuminate the existing pain points and important moments in the journey you need to focus on in your design. Be sure to use the user’s language you heard (this will be key in naming conventions and labeling in navigation, etc.).

The ways that user journeys have helped me to create a design include seeing the order of the steps the user takes, what tasks can be grouped together, what the foremost goals are in their minds and how to write marketing messages and copy that appeal to the user. When you see a huge pain point in the journey, you have extra leverage to create a more automated or seamless experience which may require extra effort for the technology or operations teams to get right, but smoothing that rough patch can go a long way to make your experience stand out and be delightful to avoid your customers sending you negative tweets.

Your Journey Map can include stories to give context, or be a summary of the user’s actions and behaviors. They also greatly complement your Personas in giving the project team a one-page visualization of the customer’s perspective. Journey Maps usually cover more than one task and scenario, but you can also put a microscope on a process that may take your users more time and steps to accomplish.

Journey Map

Let’s look at an example mortgage website, and how the journey almost makes the experience design itself!

I started by mapping out the journeys of two personas: a First-time Homebuyer, and an Experienced Home Buyer. It became clear to me that their journeys are somewhat similar, with the more experienced home buyer relying less on the up front learning than a first time home buyer needs to do. They both tended to have similar questions in their minds as they were starting the home buying process like –  “How much home can I afford?” and “what will my monthly payment be?” Mapping out the phases and steps the user takes, and the questions, concerns and pain points helped to give me ideas for how to organize the mortgages home page and the order of the steps in the flow.

Since this is a process that takes place over many days, or weeks, the user needed to be able to quickly pick up where they left off the last time they visited the site without much effort. Another important learning is that people tended to use different devices at different points in the process. They might start their research on their phone, then finish up on their iPad or laptop. This supported the effort to create a responsive web experience that was consistent across devices.

I was able to make the most commonly used tools and questions users had easily accessible.  We realized that first time home buyers need a little more education about the home buying and mortgage process, so adding a “how it works” section with video for the younger buyers would set them up for success. Experienced homebuyers can skip that and go directly to comparing rates, or using some of the calculators they were interested in, then get prequalified.

The Design

If you notice – I actually organized the content and tools into a 4-step process that mirrors the user’s actual journey. Frankly, talking to people and creating this user journey made the design process so easy. There is no guesswork and agonizing over the design and what would work well for people, it is all right in front of you. This helps to gain buy-in for your design decisions from stakeholders, and provide insightful and credible reasoning for the design.

Even if you only have a few hours to quickly sketch out your user’s journey, it is an immensely useful exercise to put you in the mindset of the people experiencing the product or service you need to design. It is extremely important in User Experience Design to talk to and observe users by doing research, but Journey Mapping is the tool that helps you translate your research findings into an amazing, intuitive design. It is hard to imagine doing UX design without it.

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UX360 - Enterprise Journey Mapping Platform

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UX360 - Enterprise Journey Mapping Platform
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2018-11-11T17:08:20+00:00