User journey maps using comic strips

Last year, I was engaged by one of Australia’s Big Four banks to help them effectively communicate the User Experience impact of a new banking platform. The task sounded simple enough, but was made challenging by the large amount of information that had to be conveyed to a diverse target audience.

The Client’s Requirements

After discussing with the client, we agreed that the deliverable had to achieve the following:


In response, I came up with a User Journey Map format, illustrated below.

The format included the following elements:

  1. Storyline: a high level description of a particular user journey
  2. Storyboard: a comic strip highlighting the key user interactions and their experiences
  3. Current Experience: highlighting the key user pain points
  4. Process: high level process steps and user interactions which enable the desired User Experience
  5. System: system elements which enable the desired User Experience
  6. Requirements Mapping: a reference to the requirements which enable the desired User Experience

Coming Up With The Format

Now, lets have a look at how I arrived at this User Journey Map format, how I generated it and why I chose to use an unlikely tool to do this.

First and foremost, the deliverable had to be VISUALLY ENGAGING in order to capture the attention of a diverse audience. The client placed significant emphasis on coming up with something that would grab attention but also communicate key concepts succinctly, without resorting to lengthy documents and large tables of data. To address this requirement, I decided to use comic strips to communicate the key parts of the process that would utilise the new platform. Using comic strips allowed me to focus on the user and add a human dimension to the experience of interacting with the new platform and associated processes.

The deliverable also had to be REUSABLE. Delivering something developed in a tool not readily available at the client’s organisation would mean that they would not be able to modify it for use in other development streams. At this stage, I started considering tools such as Visio and PowerPoint. However, I ended up settling on an unlikely candidate: Excel.

Excel allowed me to meet the requirement of generating reusable content, but more importantly, it allowed me to easily meet the client’s third requirement, which was to deliver something that was FLEXIBLE and could easily be modified for presentation to different audiences and via different channels. As illustrated in the image above, each component of the User Journey Map could simply be included/excluded from the User Journey Map by hiding/showing the row(s) it was occupying. This made it very easy to customise the User Journey Map for presentation in PowerPoint or on wall posters used during workshops.

Finally, the fourth requirement stated that we had to TELL A STORY from start to end. This was particularly important as parts of the target audience struggled to put elements of the user journey into wider context. Using comic strips proved to be highly effective in meeting this requirement. Comic strips are not only essentially narrative, but are highly accessible and easy to follow for just about anyone. The progression of time is effortlessly captured as is the element of human interaction and reaction throughout the story.

A key benefit of the approach described here is that we were able to map the user pain points to high level process steps and system components, allowing us to call out those process steps and system components which would need to receive attention in order for the new banking platform to deliver an optimal User Experience.

Migrating my old blog to Medium — originally published 12 Jan 2014

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