Think Your Product is Great? Your User Journey Map Says Otherwise
Imagine that you have finally released your new product.
After months with their heads down, your product designers can finally sit back, rub their eyes, and breathe.
Your company’s brand new software is hitting the market!
From your product designers’ point of view, it’s nearly perfect — every feature seems completely logical and intuitive.
But then, the first wave of feedback comes back from your users, and it’s not what you expected. Confusion, frustration, inability to complete basic tasks…
If you had no idea your users would have such a challenging experience, it’s because you didn’t look at your product from their perspective.
You need a user journey map to ensure your users navigate and use your product as you intend.
Why a user journey map?
In a nutshell, user journey maps allow you to:
- Visualize the user journey
- Get in the minds and eyes of your users
- Deliver what users want, instead of what you think they want
- Provide your entire team a big-picture reference of the program’s “storyline”
- Create design guidelines to help all teams maintain consistency throughout the app experience
On top of all this, they act as communication tools within an organization. That is, they are references to help everyone stay on the same page.
User Journey Maps 101
A user journey map is not that different from a customer journey map, which applies to customer experiences, marketing, sales, etc.
A journey map plots out different user paths, depending on the application and context.
- If used for marketing, it would begin at the first touchpoint and follow the user through to the point of purchase
- A website journey map would start at the visitor’s entry point to the website, then follow them to the goal
- An app journey map would diagram the user journey inside the app itself
Each of these maps would have a slightly different aim, depending on the context.
However, the essential layout of all of them is the same. They outline a user’s experience into a path, which is divided up by touchpoints.
How to make a user journey map: 5 simple tips
For savvy product creators, the user journey map is right up there with other essential prototyping tools, such as user stories and wireframes. Only, in this case, you’re usually prototyping a larger, brand-level experience.
Now, let’s get to the nitty gritty — here are five simple tips to help you build your first user journey map, today.
1. Collect research about your users: Demographics, wants, needs, and goals
Ask your users questions about themselves and what they want from your product. Read feedback, examine analytics, and talk to other departments. Get a 360-degree view of your customers.
Remember that your user’s journey is intention-based.
Whether using an app or a website, he or she has a specific goal to accomplish.
The more you can understand, the more useful your map will be.
At the end of the day, your aim is to get inside your user’s shoes. This is what will allow you to create a product that is more relevant, useful, and valuable.
2. Create real-life user personas
All of your data and research should be used to create a user profile or persona.
This persona is a picture of who your prospect may be. It should tell you who they are, what guides them, and what they want to get from your product.
It should be something you can “feel,” because the more you can feel it, the more real your user is to you.
This approach helps you stay connected with users, which is difficult if you aren’t face-to-face with them on a regular basis.
3. Walk the user through the touchpoints on your app, product, or website.
After you have personified the user, walk them through the product from their perspective.
For each touchpoint, or stage, write down:
- Their key problems at each stage
- Their motivations and intentions
- The key goal they are trying to accomplish
Some designers even write short blurbs from the user’s perspective — such as what the user is feeling, what they want, and what they intend to accomplish.
4. Visually map out this journey.
The map does not need to be fancy or complicated.
In fact, it should be like an infographic — compact, full of information, and easy to understand.
To be useful and digestible, the map should be visually appealing. After all, it is designed to be looked at frequently.
For each stage, consider including:
- Motivations, intentions, and needs
- Key goals that need to be accomplished
- Actions available to them
- The user persona
There is no single correct method for constructing journey maps. You are free to adapt the ideas in here to suit your own needs.
5. Use data at each point in the journey to gain insight, then keep refining.
Finally, remember that this is a dynamic piece of content that changes with your product.
It should be updated when something changes, such as when your product updates, when your analytics capabilities grow, or when user feedback suggests the need for change.
The map is only as useful as it is relevant, so keep it well-maintained.
Share the value! A user journey map is a useful tool that can be used by everyone in the organization: UX designers, product developers, executives, marketers, and customer service professionals, to name a few.
With a comprehensive user journey map will help you design better products and design an ideal user journey.
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