In the first article in this series we introduced the concept of a User Experience Journey Map, and in the second we looked at a simple example to illustrate how a map can be constructed. Here we’ll now provide some additional tips on getting started and we look at some more detailed examples to show the wide range of issues that they can address and how flexible they can be.
Tips to get started
1. Be clear about why
There are many ways that a User Experience Journey Map can be used, and you need to be clear about the reasons for creating one and what you expect as an outcome. Typically a map will be used to examine an existing service or help in the development of something new.
Here are some potential opportunities:
- Creating a new online service, or digitising access to an existing service
- Improving the experience of using an existing service
- As part of the discovery process when designing a new website
- Investigating the source of customer frustration/complaints
- Seeking opportunities to improve customer service
- Identifying bottlenecks that can be unblocked
2. Who will create the map and what do they need?
Context is key here. For example, if you are commissioning a new website, your web agency might create journey maps to show how their proposed design will work. Alternatively, it might be produced by your own teams to analyse an existing service, as they will have the requisite knowledge and expertise.
- Although maps can be created by a single person, it works best when done by a team, or a group of people from different teams. This means that not only is the journey map produced, but existing knowledge is shared, and everyone learns more about the users and their experiences.
- Whoever is involved needs access to a lot of information. When existing services are being mapped, try to bring in an understanding of what several users are experiencing when using the service.
- A clear wall with the ever-necessary sticky notes is really helpful. Alternatively, you can use a large table and index cards and it can also be done with a virtual whiteboard tool.
Creating a User Experience Journey Map with a group of people is a great collaborative experience. For many people it’s an unusual thing to be doing whilst at work and the process itself can be a lot of fun. It can be a great thing to explore as part of a team-building exercise.
3. What structure should be used?
It’s a good idea to have a sense of the grid you’re going to use in advance so that there is a structure to follow. Also make sure that you are clear about whether this will apply to all users, or just a subset – you can use User Personas to represent specific types of users.
- On the horizontal axis the map should follow a timeline from the beginning at the left hand side to the end point on the right hand site
- This timeline will be divided into separate stages which should be the main steps on the journey. Give each of these a clear label along the top. Sometimes you might want to define these in advance, but it can be helpful to keep this open to allow flexibility (this is where the sticky note approach is helpful).
- Next consider the vertical axis. This will be filled out with different layers of information. Start with a layer describing what the user is trying to achieve at each step.
- Then the next layer down could add how the user feels about each step.
- Further layers can start to bring some analysis into the map. You may wish to map out what systems and teams are involved in delivering that part of the journey (use one row for each). It might be useful to add in some info about Integrations, interfaces and/or interdependencies.
- Finally, you can look for opportunities for improvement. Focus on those parts of the journey where the user experience is poor and discuss what can be changed to stop the frustration from occurring.
Examples of how to use User Experience Journey Maps
Bristol City Council used journey maps as a research tool within their Customer Led Transformation Programme. The overall objective was to modernise and improve their service provision, with Customer Journey Maps helping to provide an understanding of their current service provisions from the customer’s perspective. Ten service areas were documented including for example Primary School Admissions. The programme as a whole enabled the council to deliver better services that are more accessible to the public and more efficient.
Creation of a new collaboratively delivered medical school
A new medical school was created by two universities working together. Neither university had previously provided this type of course and so the design and development phase required close collaboration between the service teams of each university. Administrative and digital services were delivered jointly by the two separate organisations using their existing teams and processes, and there was a high risk that the necessary integrations and interdependencies would become bottlenecks and points of frustration for the applicants and new students. Creating User Experience Journey Maps was a vital part of the service design process, bringing the different teams together to work through the challenges and problems, sharing knowledge of each other’s processes and practices, and providing the blueprint for the required development work.
The UK Government includes details of how to create experience maps in their Service Manual and in their broader documentation of how they work. They provide blogs explaining why user journey maps are used in government includes some visual examples including interactions with the Land Registry during the process of buying a house and some very detailed work within the Ministry of Justice Digital Services on Civil Claims.
The power of User Experience Journey Maps should not be underestimated.
When you bring people together to produce these during a workshop session, you will come out with some very useful and practical visual outputs in the form of the map itself. Make sure that everyone involved in creating the maps receives a copy, make poster-sized versions to stick on the office wall so that they can continue to provide value, and consider other ways in which they could be used within your internal communications.
However the outcomes will be even more significant. Colleagues will have improved their understanding of how the internal processes and procedures work. You will gain valuable insights into how those processes can be improved. There will be a much greater understanding of the experiences of your users, customers, members, donors or stakeholders – and you will have identified clear opportunities for improving those experiences.