Your catalyst for action

Helena Harvey
Aug 19, 2018 · 4 min read

As the owner of a digital product, you may wonder where best to spend your team’s efforts to reach your company’s goals. A primary goal for the success of any digital product is increasing the user base and gaining more loyal customers. So, how do you do this?

Why do people adopt a service or product in the first place?

They usually have a need or a problem that the service or product can solve for them. For example, some people don’t have the time or means to go grocery shopping for healthy food, and this is where Grocery Gateway or something like Hello Fresh come in to fill the need. Not everyone owns a car or wants to call a service for a cab, so this is where Uber comes in to fill the need.

Do you know why your customer needs or wants your digital product?

I’d guess that you wouldn’t be in business if you didn’t, but how do you grow with your customer to remain relevant and keep delighting them with your useful tools or service? It’s all about collecting information and data about your users’ experience and then visualizing it in a way that allows you to make quick, informed decisions.

Let’s go over the ins and outs of experience mapping so you can put this useful practice into action immediately and use it as your catalyst for improvement as well as a tool to measure your experience!


Put yourself in your users’ shoes and walk through your experience. You are partaking in this activity to discover where your product is meeting, exceeding and failing your customer/user.

Step 1: What are the various stages in the lifecycle of your product?

Think about before and after the user becomes a customer. For example, if we look at a coffee shop app you might have the following stages: Awareness, Install, Set-up account, Order, Pick-up etc. Plot these stages horizontally and create columns below them.

Step 2: What is your user expecting to achieve at each stage?

It may be to order a coffee, receive a shipment or to make a purchase. Create a horizontal row for the users’ goals or expectations at each stage of your product lifecycle and begin to fill that in with whatever information you have.

Step 3: Why has your customer decided to interact with you at this time?

What might have triggered them into action? It may be that they were walking by your restaurant, or they quickly need to travel somewhere, or they are planning for dinner. Make another horizontal row to write down what triggered them into action.

Step 4: Where is your customer?

Context can indicate how your product needs to interact with your user. Are they travelling, at home, at the office? Make another horizontal row for context.

Step 5: Now for the biggie. How does your customer feel at each stage? Are they having a positive or negative experience and why?

Feelings are so important when you are creating products and services for people. If they have a positive experience, your customer is sure to return, but if they are having a negative one and can’t complete their primary goal, they won’t be returning, but they will tell everyone they know how terrible your service is! Make another horizontal row plotting your users’ feelings at each stage.

Step 6: Where are the opportunities to improve your product to better meet your users’ needs and delight them?

Review your map. Where are users having a negative experience and why. Are there things you can change to improve their experience? Make another row for opportunities.

Congratulations! You are beginning to understand and evaluate your customer experience.


You may have filled your map with the information you have assumed about your customer. Assumptions are ok to get started, but you must follow up on them and get to the truth of the matter through user research. Both qualitative and quantitative analysis can be used to inform your experience map. The more you assume about your customer, the higher your risk for failure.

Added benefits

If you are working on a team of 2 or more, there are added benefits to experience mapping that will help communicate, solution and push your product forward.
1. Your experience map can now act as a shared frame of reference for everyone on the team.
2. You can more readily identify areas of opportunity to drive innovation and ideation.
3. Develop knowledge of customer behaviours and needs.
4. Further your evolution towards customer-centred thinking.

NYC Design

A publication for designers in New York and followers all around the world. Design thinking is what makes us write here on Medium to share with the designers of the world.

Helena Harvey

Written by

Human experience designer, researcher & strategist.

NYC Design

A publication for designers in New York and followers all around the world. Design thinking is what makes us write here on Medium to share with the designers of the world.

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