User Journey Mapping - What is it?

User journey mapping may sound more tricky than it actually is. When you’ve launched a business, created a product or website, the next thing to do is market it to your target audience. This is where user journey mapping comes into play: you have to structure your website for the right customer experience.

User journey Mapping - what is it?
Giles Taylor writes for W/Brand Design Blog
Giles Taylor, December 07, 2021

If you’re new to user journey mapping or are unsure where to begin, our guide explains what it is and how you can use it. 

What is a user journey map?

The user journey map is a visualisation of the relationship between a user and a product/brand over a period of time. It is used across many different channels, and the channels you utilise all depends on what your business stands for. User journey maps look different for every business and can come in all forms, but the baseline is to represent a timeline of touchpoints between a user and a product.

This map can help user experience designers see the journey from a user’s point of view. That way, they can change the way the website looks, or implement strategies to make your product and how it's purchased more effective for the customer, and increase sales/leads for your business.

What business goal does this journey map support?

Journey maps are created with a business goal in mind but can vary depending on what you’re trying to achieve, and should align for the full effect. The map could be in aid of learning more about who your customer is and what they’re most interested in, purchasing behaviours, or discovering why different parts of the user experience aren’t effective.

The benefit of a journey map is huge in terms of business goal support. It can help show you which touchpoints of the user experience need work and you can then create a strategy and ideas on how to improve that. It can help you learn more about your customer base and target them better through marketing strategies. Also, an effective journey map can help refocus your thoughts and visions of your company and help you understand your data a lot more.

How do I begin creating a user journey map? 

When beginning to start your journey map creation, there are a few things to consider including the perspective, scenario, user’s emotions, touchpoints, and channels. 

The first step is to think of a narrative or the journey a said customer would go on. For example, if Bob is looking to get an insurance quote for his next holiday in a few days’ time. What process will he take to search for it? You need to think about how this typical persona’s point of view and use that as a baseline to plan out your map.

Then you’ll need to get in deeper with that example customer to what and why they need to purchase and consider their emotions to, put yourself in their position, and do this all based on market research too. You’re essentially thinking about a situation that hasn’t happened yet in order to find gaps in the user experience timeline, and then take the right course of action to optimise the experience for the user - putting you ahead of your competitors. 

Journey maps will look different for everyone but it’s about the planning process to give you the right results and help yourself help customers.

Who will use the journey map?

Journey maps are hugely beneficial for your team as a whole, especially UX designers. With the creation of a map, you establish an aligned mental model for the entire team, and therefore, it gives you all more scope on who your user is and what they need to really maximise their experience when purchasing your product or service.

Who will use it? Isn’t one singular person. Journey maps are put in place for a wider understanding of a problem across an organisation and then, an issue for you to work on as a team. It can help you build a shared vision on how to solve an issue for your users - because without a shared vision and having an aligned goal for journey mapping, improving the customer experience won’t take place.

Journey maps will help your team have a clearer vision and work together to create the same goal - it’s a universal and crucial map for everyone.

Who is it about and what experience does it address?

The journey map as mentioned previously is about users who are looking to buy your brand and service, and how they would interact with you. It addresses the experience of the scenarios you paint out of the typical personas you’re targeting. This could be a mum in their thirties looking to buy an eco-friendly toy or a teenager shopping for the latest mobile phone. Whatever the scenario, the journey map will plan out the touchpoints of what that customer would do to get to the end product and point out any missing parts that you can fill in and make the experience better as a whole.

The journey map is a visual approach to this and can help a product team find an answer to ‘what if?’ questions of the user experience and can reveal opportunities to address customers’ pain points.

How to create a successful journey map?

A successful journey map requires well-thought-out planning, collaborative input, and well-defined goals. It’s not a quick thought process as it can really help you and your business figure out what is missing in the customer experience.

There are a few things to consider for a successful journey map including the truth, collaboration, and jumping too quickly. As easy as it is to create a persona to map the journey map around, there’s no point as there’s nothing to back it up. What you need to do is source some research for your target market and base a journey map around that, rather than what you think your customer would be. Collaboration is key with journey mapping because two pairs of eyes are better than one and you’ll have a different perspective that way, and can create a more thoughtful plan. And, another thing to consider is taking the plan slowly. Don’t rush to the visual side of it, you need to ensure your stats, research and thoughts are correct before you go there.

Journey mapping is a worthwhile task and something essential to implement for the optimum level of success for your business.

If you’re looking for a branding agency to help you scope out your journey map, get in touch with us today. Or, if you’re interested to learn more about user journey mapping, Nielsen Norman Group has been the master for this since the 1990s.

Giles Taylor writes for W/Brand Design Blog

Giles Taylor

Giles is the founder and creative director for W/Brand. A graphic designer from Reading in Berkshire, UK, he's a dad with two wonderful children who enjoys walking and playing the guitar.  

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