User journey map

User journey map
12th July 2019

A human centred design approach to enhancements can improve customer experience and boost ROI. Find out five reasons why enterprises should be using a user journey map to drive customer experience.

What is a user journey map?

A user journey map is a user experience design exercise which looks at the experience of a user interacting with a service. This could range from digital experiences like using an app or website, through to physical experiences such as visiting a store or checking into a hotel.

Whatever the application, it helps us understand what the customer wants to do, how they do it, and the experiences they have along the journey. There are many different approaches and mapping exercises depending on the service or the information you’re trying to gather, but all follow a similar structure whether you’re using a user journey map for solely websites or omnichannel experiences.

5 reasons enterprises should use a user journey map

1. User journey maps align teams and build stakeholder empathy

Across larger businesses and organisations, it’s easy for teams to be siloed and isolated, seeing a small part of a bigger picture. While this allows them to build a significant amount of knowledge and maturity, it also can also result less empathy with other teams and their processes or requirements.

Mapping out a user journey with the involvement of different teams and experiences will give more insight into the customer experience and underlying business processes. However, the collaboration will bring teams together to think about the interactions with different parts of the business and create an alignment to a common strategy.

They will find opportunities and overcome problems together, while keeping the user as the principle factor. Teams and stakeholders will experience the service from the user’s perspective, seeing the pain points first hand and building empathy with the user.

2. Using a user journey map to better plan enhancements and content

Creating a user journey map exposes the pain points and areas of friction where users can drop out or accumulate negative experience equity. These should be treated as opportunities rather than hurdles; refining these experiences can provide the most return on investment (ROI) for enterprises.

The journey map will give a landscape of experience where you can see the peaks and troughs. This simplifies planning and resourcing, giving much more focussed and efficient approach to enhancements, targeting specific problems, and having a direct effect on goals.

3. Clear direction for testing and refinement

A user journey map focuses on specific users or personas and a specific journey to achieve a goal by fulfilling several requirements. These specifics provide the metrics and guidelines for testing the journey with users. Organisations can source people who match the persona demographic, measure the speed and ease of completing the goal, and gather feedback on the touch points and how they were able to fulfil their requirements.

The journey can initially be mapped by internal teams and stakeholders but is most effective with the involvement of ‘real’ users and customers. Their first-hand experiences are invaluable in gathering qualitative date to refine an experience.

The exposed pain points immediately become the areas for which you should test solutions. This can be done quickly with individual users through high fidelity prototypes (see point 5). Alternatively, Sitecore’s A/B testing can drive a smaller volume of users through an enhanced journey to refine the experience, which removes the pressure of getting 100% right straight away.

Gathering more data through testing will help you make more informed decisions and improve the performance of the journey. The big data and machine learning capability in Sitecore (known as Sitecore Cortex) can aid in the analysis of data to help find patterns that are easily missed.

4. Measuring performance of user journeys

Having key user journeys mapped out gives a blueprint for measuring the on-going performance of your website. This is essential in understanding the impact of newly designed enhancements and content.

Using the same metrics for the journey testing, you can run through the new design with testers or focus groups to measure the change in the experience. In a live situation, Sitecore path analyser can show you the real time performance of a journey. So, when a solution for a pain point is designed and implemented, its impact can be measured and assessed, and even narrowed down by persona type.

These funnels are represented in Sitecore, showing where people are dropping out of the journey. Combined with Sitecore personalisation, you can try different content or paths to find the best solution for specific user types.

user journey map

5. Fast iterations – perfect for design sprints

Design sprints focus on providing rapid validation of an approach to a problem. This works perfectly with a user journey map, where problems and areas of friction are identified beforehand.

Following a user journey mapping exercise, design teams would have various opportunities to investigate which can be prioritised, designed, and tested within a single sprint. The speed helps identify which ideas can have the most impact, backed up by data, before committing too much time or resource to the solution.

The ideas are quickly developed into high fidelity prototypes that are tested with customers using the original user journey. The impact of the design and user feedback can be compared against the original user journey map to build a business case for further development and implementation.

What are the risks of not using a user journey map?

The biggest advantage of using a user journey map by far is to build empathy with the user. Without empathy or understanding, targeting services will be hit or miss. Human centred design is the modern standard for digital services, so a lack of understanding or value on your users will put your brand at risk.

A user journey forces people to think of the user first, rather than being guided by business processes. In an ideal world, the service would be designed by first mapping out the ideal user journey, creating business processes to support this, and then undergoing a constant refinement process to improve the experience.

Without a user journey mapped out and constantly refined, it is easy for the service to be led by what is easiest for the business, without realising the friction it can cause for real customers. Eventually, the service will stagnate, and either be overtaken by competitors or technology.

How to create an effective user journey map

From a list of personas or user types, start with your most valuable user, and map their journey from the point of first interaction or entry to your site, through to the fulfilment of the most important goal.

Through the journey, highlight the decisions they make, the content and functionality they interact with, and their thoughts and feelings. It can be helpful to plot the feeling in a line graph with points at each interaction to visualise the emotion over time. Positive feelings are important to find what works, while negative thoughts show areas that can be improved. It can help to add in quotes or excerpts from interviews to give context to thoughts, or even to reinforce findings.

If possible, overlay the journey with data to show the number of users who reach each stage, how many drop out, where they go, and anything to illustrate the efficiency of the journey. This data can help make decisions and measure the impact of future solutions.

You should now have a clear list of opportunities for improving the user journey and user experience (UX). These can be fed into a design sprint to develop solutions, given to product teams to own and remedy, or added to a backlog for prioritisation and development. But, the biggest takeaway should be a team who have experienced the journey first hand, an understanding of what needs to be improved, and a plan to measure the impact of solution.

Implementing a user journey map for your organisation’s website

If your organisation is passionate about its digital goals and puts its customers at the centre of its digital strategy, then you probably have already considered the importance of a user journey map.

We’re here to help bring your ideal user experience to from a vision to reality. Kagool is a top tier Sitecore Partner with a wide range of expertise in our team. We have over 20 years’ experience helping enterprise-level businesses to achieve their goals through strategy, design, development and digital marketing. Contact us today to find out how we can work together.