User Journey Mapping

When building software, there is always so much attention that is focused on the end product, the features, the bells and whistles that make the software or product “pretty”. Just because a product looks nice or has nice functionality, if the main goal of your software does not keep the user at the heart of it, then there is a good chance that your product will fail. We’ve talked about why we love User Journey Mapping at Ncontracts before; today we’ll take a closer look at what it means in practice.

A user journey map is a very simple concept that is often overlooked when developing a product. It is building a simple model that shows the path a user will take from when they log on to your software, to the desired end goal you have for your user. When this process is not done correctly, or at all, you may see high bounce rates, negative reviews, or frustrated customers just bouncing around from page to page in your software, lost, and not knowing where to go next. The absolute best time to create a journey map is during the discovery process as this feeds into other processes such as wireframing and information architecture.

Big Benefits

A few highlights of the benefits of creating a journey map are:

Ability to demonstrate the vision for your software
A user journey map is a great way to communicate what your goals are with your product. These goals will always and should always revolve around your user and what you want from them, not what you think is best. Think of it this way, a user journey map is an outline to tell the story of the software that you’re building. Any customer can say “I want to build X software”, but it’s the story behind WHY they want to build the software that is important.

Understanding user behavior
This will help you understand how users will interact with your product. It’s the intended flow for your software; the most logical path from when a user logs on to your product or software, to when they accomplish the goal.

It’s your guidepost
It’s important to have a user journey map because as design and development begins on your product, you always have your journey map to look back to, to help feed your work queue. This is crucial to ensure that you stay on task. Sometimes it’s easy to build what “you” think would be best but having an established journey map that was created by you and your team will ensure everyone stays on target.

It can evolve
Use your journey map to also plan out future releases. You don’t have to cram all of the functional requirements that you want in your software into the MVP. It’s a good idea to add future features under a “Version 2”, “Version 3”, etc. area so you’re sure to remember them and get them implemented. By parsing out your journey map with future release

Focusing On What’s Important

When creating a user journey map, there are several items to understand.

Your users goal
This is the main goal of your software that you want your user to achieve. Is it to purchase a product? Is it to sign up for a service?

User pain points
During the data gathering process that you collect from your research, you’ll find out who exactly your user base will be, which leads into the next point.

The overall character
This is the main persona of your users. When creating your user journey map, you will keep this persona in mind to ensure that you’re solving for the proper user.

The main task to achieve
This is the big enchilada! The whole reason you’re building your software. You’re taking the goals, pain points, and user personas all into account when you’re outlining the users’ main task to achieve.

There is no one set way to create a user journey map, and it can depend on the audience that you’re developing for, be it developers or designers. It can be as simple as writing down high-level ideas on sticky notes and slapping them on the wall. The important thing is to create a user journey map. It will keep your team on track to ensure that you’re producing a product that is solving real needs for real people.