Designing a digital product that will give users exactly what they need is not an easy task. To achieve that, it is crucial to understand their motivations and experiences – you need to empathize with them. Creating a journey map is one of the most effective ways to attain this goal as it helps you to understand how customers will interact with your product. In this post, we will answer the essential questions: what is a user journey map, how to create it, and why do you need it after all?
Journey maps are widely used as UX tools and can have different formats. A journey map helps to visualize the steps a user takes to accomplish their goal with the help of your digital product.
You might have heard of two names for it: customer journey map and user journey map. They are interchangeable terms and actually mean the same thing.
A journey map helps to visualize the steps a user takes to accomplish their goal with the help of your digital product.
A journey map creation begins with putting a series of actions the user completes into a timeline. After this, the timeline is completed with user emotions to create a narrative for their journey. Then, this narrative is visualized through design.
Moreover, a journey map helps to show a user’s interaction with the digital product and visualize their overall relations with the company or its brand.
As we mentioned before, user journey maps can be done in different formats. But usually, they take the form of a timeline with all the touchpoints of a user interacting with the product. Also, they take into account a context, meaning the physical environment and circumstances in which the user experiences your product.
User journey maps are usually created at the beginning of the design process after the user persona is defined. Also, it is one of the crucial design deliverables at this stage.
User journey helps to understand user behavior – the way users interact with the product. It also shows how much effort it takes for them to complete their goal. The user journey map highlights the problems your product will solve and the solutions it will offer.
Moreover, the user journey helps to understand user needs and pain points to create tangible design solutions. It is used to understand better user behavior and their pain points, discover gaps in their experience and take action to make it better.
After we’ve discovered the meaning of a journey map and when it’s used, let’s talk about its benefits. And believe us, there are many of them.
First of all, creating a customer journey map helps to get the team on the same page. It helps to create a shared mindset and build an efficient work process.
Also, it helps to give stakeholders a perspective on design decisions that will be implemented. A user journey can be used as a document to show all the UX aspects of the product, including its strong sides and weaknesses.
Moreover, a customer journey map helps to prioritize the functionality features of your future product at a high level. When you understand the user’s goals and tasks on the way to their achievement, you can turn these insights into your product’s functions. Then, the teams working on a product will be able to define its functionality detailly and plan needed changes or upgrades.
Another benefit to your company from creating a journey map is that it helps to shape your view of the product and build your strategy around it. It helps to understand better where your products stand in the terms of UX. Also, building a user journey will help you to create the shared vision within your organization for your future product.
Creating a user journey map isn’t a difficult task while you can benefit from it a lot. You can set your own process for building a customer journey map but here are the essential steps you can take to make the most efficient one.
6 steps of the mapping user journey
Before beginning to map a user journey, you need to define the goals you want to achieve with your digital product. Without doing that, it will be difficult to determine which impact it will have both for your customer and your business.
Gather the stakeholders within your business that can contribute to the vision of the user experience of your product. Also, a clear and attainable goal can be formed if you engage a cross-functional team in this process and look at it from different perspectives.
Moreover, this stage is perfect for defining your project’s scope. Your journey map’s scope can vary from the high-level map that visualizes only end-to-end user experience to a detailed one that shows specific action user takes with your product.
User persona for your journey map is a crucial step in its creation and if you defined your goal right in the previous stage, it will be much easier for you.
If you’re not familiar with this term, the user persona is an archetype of the user who represents the goals and needs of a wider group of users. Typically, a user persona is presented in a 1-2-page document that covers their behavior patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and background information. Also, it can define the environment and circumstances in which this persona will interact with your product.
A user journey map is usually built around user persona. User persona should be based on data you have about your target audience. Therefore, to define user persona for your journey map you need to conduct in-depth research. Then your design will be based on fact and not on assumptions.
You can gather this data through user interviews when you have a chance to talk with your potential customers and gather valuable insights.
The scenario of your user journey map is essentially a situation when your product will be used. It is usually tightly connected to the user’s goal, needs, and expectations. For example, a scenario could describe the story of a person who is trying to eat healthily, and their expectation will be the personalized diet instructions.
Scenarios can be both for already existing products, services or ideas, or for products that are only at the design stage. Creating a map for user journey is best for scenarios including a sequence of events that show a process.
Touchpoints are defined when the user interacts with your product. Identifying all touchpoints is an essential part of the journey map and its overall success.
By conducting research, you should be able to identify all the touchpoints (both existing and potential) when customers are using your product.
This helps you to understand the actions they take on the way to achieving their goal with your product. The number of touchpoints also can help you to understand whether it’s difficult for them to attain that goal or, on the contrary, users will spend too little time with your product.
Moreover, by understanding the touchpoints, you’ll be able to facilitate the user’s journey and make your product more accessible.
After you’ve collected all the needed data and completed previous steps, you can now create the step-to-step user journey map. Each step will show the interaction point with your product or services that the user has.
After user journey map completion, it can be shared with the rest of the team and the stakeholders to be validated. Then, you can improve it if needed or introduce iterations proposed by others. This step will help you to achieve the best results with your journey map.
Every map for user journey usually has five essential elements:
After learning about the essential elements of the user journey map, let’s take a look at some of the great examples of user journey mapping that will help you to create your own.
Spotify is a well-known music streaming platform that can offer great usability to its users and engage millions of listeners globally. Here’s an example of a user journey map for Spotify.
Amazon is another global platform that offers a wide variety of services and that is still one of the most successful companies. Here’s an example of its user journey map that is a bit different from the previous one.
A user journey map is an extremely useful tool in UX. It doesn’t simply help you to create an improved user experience with enhanced accessibility/ It also lets you form the vision of your product and see how it fits in your business strategy. But most importantly, it helps to understand the user, how they will interact with your product, and whether this interaction will be useful for them. Because they will be the final judge of whether your digital product is a success or not.
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