UX methodology: User Journey map

A User Journey Map shows us the steps that a client follows during his relationship with a service or company.

Journey map: definition

A User Journey map shows us the steps that a client follows during his relationship with a service or company. Synonymous terms are Customer Journey or Experience Map. It involves visualizing in a diagram the phases that a current or potential user follows in their interaction with a service from start to finish.

When is a Journey map used?

The Journey map is used to analyze the status quo of a service. What is the current relationship of our customers since they hear about the product until they make a purchase? What phases are necessary and what is the experience of the users in each phase?

We can also create the Journey map during the ideation phase of a new service or product. What changes can we make in the Touchpoints to create memorable moments of satisfaction in the clients? Can we save the client a tedious phase or process? What innovations would substantially increase the experience of the future? This process has to take into account the positioning of the company to reinforce the touchpoints of maximum value proposal, that is, the points where the demand puts the maximum emphasis.

How to create a Journey map?

Before starting with the User Journey you need to have defined a Person. A Person is the result of a process of creating archetype (s) of user (s) that have common needs. People empower a common vision in the team from the perspective of the user and allow them to empathize with him.

Example of a journey map during its elaboration in a coworking session. Whiteboard with post-it’s

Once we have the Person we can make the Journey map working on the following elements:

  • Temporal axis: the temporal axis or timeline is a set of essential moments in the relationship of the Person with the company. It is recommended to concentrate on 3–5 key moments, from a beginning where the user discovers the service to the final steps such as support or repair.
  • Touchpoints: Touchpoints comprise both the user’s actions and the channels in which he is coming into contact with the company or service.
  • Emotion: the key emotions for the success of a service can be very diverse (see examples below). An important indicator is the level of satisfaction and dissatisfaction / frustration of a current or future client.
    The elaboration of the User Journey map requires the participation of several stakeholders. These participants would ideally be the same ones who have defined the Person in a previous session.

During the discussion, the Timeline and the touchpoints are created using Post-its on a whiteboard or whiteboard. Emotions are added with the feedback you have or actions are planned to measure the emotions of the users.

The objective of the Journey map is to generate memorable experiences in the user in the phases prior to purchase or registration. A memorable experience is one that substantially exceeds the expectations that the customer might have regarding a service or product, taking into account the perception of the company and its competence.

After the Journey…

Once the Journey map is finished we can start to make a list of changes in the product / service. If the Journey map has been used for the definition of new services or users, strategic changes will have to be made to reach the objectives set in the Journey. For example, technological, organizational, cultural changes, etc.

It is important to take into account if the person that has been used for the definition of the Journey map represents the existing customer base that must be retained with a better service. Or if our goal is rather to attract new customers or markets. The design strategy has to be aligned with the business objectives. For example, Fantastic Journey maps can be defined for users that are not going to represent a long-term increase in the company’s profits.

It is also important to bear in mind that the hypotheses that are formulated during the elaboration of the Journey map must be contrasted with the reality of the market and the perception of the users. For example, a one-click shopping process can represent a memorable experience in an e-commerce portal. Contrary to the contracting of financial services, the user may prefer to understand the details of the product well during the purchase process.

Types of visualization
There is no single way to represent the journey map. Here are a series of examples that show the different ways in which the client’s journey can be represented.

You can arrange the timeline in a circular or linear way.

Example of a Journey map for Lego
Example of a Journey map mixing a diagram with photographs to analyze the visit to a museum.

The journey maps usually emphasize above all in the visualization of the emotional changes of the users. This helps to generate empathy with the user and make better decisions when it comes to spreading the efforts to improve the service.

This example of a tourist in San Francisco uses colors to identify different emotions: anxiety, frustration, fatigue, confusion, with little physical space, rest.

Thus the journey map can “map” different emotional dimensions.

Example of a very visual journey map that uses colors to identify different emotions of the user. (tourist in San Francisco)
Example of a journey map that maps the opinions of the users as they go through the different phases. The “rewarding-horrible” dimension occupies much of the graph with a curve diagram. (IKEA)
Example of a journey map with three emotional dimensions (frustration, patience, distrust)

Similar Methodologies

There are methodologies similar to the journey map that are more useful depending on the objectives.

  • Storyboard: The storyboard is a way to visualize the Journey map in a more graphic way for communication with other members of the organization. The timeline is reflected in images along with a narration of the actions. As you can see in the above examples, the separation between Journey map and storyboard is fluid.
    Service blueprint: The service blueprint can be used as an analysis or as a plan for a new service. It details the processes of the service focused on the user.
  • Flowchart: If we want to make a detailed analysis of the processes, a flow chart can be made, as I explained in the previous post about Flowcharts. The flow diagram allows us to visualize the steps that a system or user follows to perform a series of tasks.

Note: This article was first published by interactius (spanish version).