What is a user journey?
A user journey is the entire experience that somebody has while interacting with your product. It is a well-detailed explanation of each step that your users take to complete specific tasks within an application, system, or a website. This lets you discover the current user workflow, as well as uncover areas for improvement.
It also provides a precise timeline of user actions and a visualization of customer interactions with the product. When the user journey is documented by design and product specialists working on enhancing a product or service, it is usually known as a user journey map.
In the following section, we will shed some light on the specific benefits of creating a map of user experiences.
The benefits of developing a user journey map
Are you looking to give your company a boost and increase product sales? If done efficiently and regularly, user journey mapping can be one of the most effective strategies for uplifting a business. Below are some of the major benefits of generating a user journey map.
Getting the entire team on the same wavelength
Mapping user experiences encourages collaboration and teamwork, in turn aligning the goals and visualizations of everyone on board. Journey maps are a great option for delivering precise information to help create a shared vision. These maps also form the basis of decision making as the entire product team transitions into the process.
Showcasing the user journey as a complete package
A user journey is a long, drawn out process that is completed by taking a series ofspecific steps. User mapping showcases these customer actions as an entire journey. This helps the marketing team with discussing the goals of the journey, including business and end-user goals together with their alignment towards the goals of the organization.
Allowing for user scenario analysis
User experience mapping makes it easy to evaluate and understand various user scenarios. It enables the team to test out several user journeys and select the best performing one via an informed process. Journey maps are best suited to scenarios that involve a series of critical events such as shopping or taking a trip, or describing a process that will involve a set of transitions over time.
Identifying user journey loopholes
Journey mapping lets you step back and observe the entire user journey process from a different perspective. Weak links and loopholes that you haven’t already identified may now become apparent. This also helps you understand the problems experienced by your end-users when interacting with your product.
On user maps, these points are generally represented as ‘dips’ in the journey diagram (see the example below), helping you spot potentially underperforming areas and compare them with other low points in the journey. This also gives you the ability to create a list of much-needed optimizations.
Spotting unnecessary processes and touchpoints
Another great advantage of customer experience maps is the ability to identify steps that can be disposed of to make the user experience more seamless and cohesive. Eliminating an existing step that is no longer required or adding an efficient step to the process can all be achieved with ease if you have a user journey map.
Now that you understand the benefits of customer journey maps, it’s time to learn how to create one.
The steps involved in building a customer journey map
Step 1: Create comprehensive user personas
Each customer persona is a reflection of a real life user profile, and they help in gaining qualitative insights into their needs and expectations. It is a good idea to start with the baseline user persona of your ideal customer and then go on to creating multiple ones to get a deeper understanding of who your buyers are exactly. This also helps with introducing workshop participants to the users involved in your customer journey.
To get you inspired, here’s an example of a buyer persona from the Munro American brand:
Step 2: Get a grasp on user goals
Do you know what your users want to achieve with your products or services? If you are unsure, then getting a sense of your user goals should be your primary focus.
During the entire customer journey mapping process, devise activities to reveal user goals and then place them in a logical sequence. Such an arrangement can be used to provide structure to the map as you determine the specific journey stages.
Each individual stage may have one or more corresponding goals and should be categorized by difficulty. As a result, you’ll be able to uncover any frustrations or unexpected positive surprises that customers experience throughout the journey. Once you’ve determined goals for all of the different stages, you can then proceed to building your hypothetical user map.
Step 3: Map out user touchpoints
Maps are a great method of communicating the alignment between your customer’s expectations and the current experience of your user journey. Therefore, it is imperative to identify all points of contact and situations (both online and offline) that arise when a client meets your brand. You’ll notice that some customer touchpoints carry more weight than others - for instance, a bad check-in experience at a hotel can spoil the entire stay.
To avoid setbacks and maintain high customer satisfaction levels, it would be wise to keep a record of all potential customer touchpoints that occur between your users and your organization.
Step 4: Figure out customer pain points and frustrations
Now is the time to focus on determining your customers’ painful moments and roadblocks. This can be achieved by asking yourself user-centered questions and conducting customer interviews or asking questions via customer service on social media platforms, as well as surveying customer-facing staff. A few potential questions to ask would be:
- Can my customers achieve their goals with my website?
- Where are there problems and areas for improvement?
- At which part of the process are customers abandoning purchases and why?
Once you know the roadblocks, mark them down on the customer journey map. Also, jot down the areas where you are performing well but could still have a positive impact.
If you want to dig deep into your users’ experiences, you can also refer to our list of 24 usability testing questions.
Step 5: Prioritize and eliminate roadblocks
Identify the parts that must be fixed immediately and make a list of features that are particularly problematic. For example, giving your sign-up process a face-lift would be a good idea if your customers frequently complain about it. The good news is that you don’t always need to implement radical changes. Breaking everything down and starting from scratch might not be needed when just a few minor changes would suffice to improve your product.
Step 6: Update and enhance
Last but not least, make sure that your user journey map is a living document and not set in stone. Since your users are constantly evolving, it is important to keep checking their satisfaction levels by obtaining customer feedback and, if the need arises, using it to make a more effective customer journey map.
If it is feasible, update and improve your journey mapevery six months or so. Also, keep in mind that whenever a significant change is introduced to your product, the customer journey map template should be updated accordingly.
Three User Journey Mapping Examples
As beneficial as it is to create user journey maps for product strategy improvement, marketing, and UX, there is also a bit of ambiguity surrounding the process. To clarify, we will discuss a few basic types of customer journey mapping examples of various companies that have benefitted from this process:
This leading Finland-based analytics tool provides you with a log of visitors to your website. The company’s main vision is to incorporate web intelligence into businesses. As such, their user journey maps the paths from Discovery to Sales and Retention. By implementing mapping, they have identified their ecommerce customer’s goals, touchpoints, success factors, and secondary KPIs.
As an example, one customer’s goal during the discovery phase of the user journey is to identify a tool that tracks anonymous website users. During their free trial, the prospective customer finds out how it works and if it meets their requirements. Once a real customer buys a subscription, the key goal is to get accurate access to website data. Once this aim is met, they proceed to the customer retention phase and hopefully become a long-time user.
An all-purpose influencer marketing tool designed specifically for bloggers, small businesses, startups, digital marketers, and agencies. One of their journey phases, known as ‘day 3’, is based on the following assumptions:
- People need real time to explore and use a new application, so if there doesn’t appear to be product engagement in the first day or two, it’s probably natural.
- At the same time, people can easily forget about an application and become quickly disengaged, so if by day 3, 4, or 5 you are not seeing sufficient activity, then it may be cause for concern.
Often, applications might require something from the user to allow the user to really experience the full benefits. This might be something like:
- importing a list
- integrating with another application
- filling out a profile
Judd Mercer, Creative Director at Elevated Third, outlines how to use journey maps in the real estate industry to develop your business.
The company showcases six distinct experience phases for the user journey map, namely: Design, Financing, Construction, Leasing, Model, and Completion. Their map is a bit extensive, but they have modeled the entire process that a customer undertakes during their relationship with a business.
A user journey map is a visual representation of the entire customer experience. It provides ample benefits including viewing your product from a different perspective, identifying loopholes, analyzing differing user scenarios, and getting the entire team on the same wavelength.
If carried out properly, a user journey map is one of the most effective design tools and strategies for turning your product into a success.