Telling the story as a UX Designer: The journey map

The journey map is the story the UX designer tells about the user in the context of the website, application or product. It’s how we distinguish user mindsets, identify gaps in the experience, and define opportunities for improvement. Ultimately, it’s how we create an application or website that users identify with.

To build a journey map, we first have to review the goals of the organization and define the goal of the journey mapping activity. Then we have to understand our different users: What do they like? What do they dislike? What are they motivated by? What frustrates them? What drives them? If there are different types of users, we build personas for each user.

The typical components of a journey map:

  • Personas

  • Timeline (best to either have a finite amount of time or specific phases)

  • Emotion (peaks and valleys)

  • Touchpoints (what customer is doing in interacting with service, organization, product, app or website)

  • Channels (where interaction takes place and the context of use)

The finished product of a journey map is a visual or graphic representation of the customer’s experience.

Some organizations may resist conducting user research because they feel they already know their users. The UX designer’s first job in that case is to collect all the user insight or research the organization already has and to map them so any gap in knowledge becomes apparent. Once the gaps in knowledge become apparent, there are a number of ways to close them, both quantitatively and qualitatively researching journey map components.

Quantitative research methods include:

  • Web analytics

  • Social mentions

  • Survey

  • Search data

Qualitative research methods include:

  • Customer interviews

  • Contextual inquiry

Once we have all the research, we map the experience of the relevant user mindsets interacting in a defined experience or over a defined timeline with the product at various touchpoints, which serves to expose where there are experience gaps between channels, touchpoints or devices. This defines where we tackle design and development efforts.