You probably know how many people visit your website, but do you know how those people feel about it afterwards? We’ve all had bad experiences with websites and the frustration felt can be quite off-putting. A bad customer experience can mean the end of any interaction between that customer and the organisation.  

As someone responsible for the website, how do you fix this problem? If you already have a website, how can you identify and remove these points of frustration? If you’re planning a new website, is there something you can do to make sure you don’t accidentally create these poor experiences in the first place? 

The beginners guide

You need a map 

Just like in life, maps give you a better sense of place or a situation. They show you details about the landscape – the hills, the valleys, rivers and seas. They also give hints about how to traverse the landscape with roads, paths, and even the unbeaten track. There are countless options and opportunities within a map, so where to start? 

You then map out a journey  

A map becomes incredibly useful when you plot out a journey on it. There’s a starting point and then a path or sequence of steps can be followed that get you to where you want to be. Once you decide where you want to go, a map shows you the journey to be followed.  

You experience the journey 

Whilst a journey can be about simply getting from A to B, the ones that we remember most are the ones that made us feel something. Those feelings and emotions – good and bad – are where the experience part comes in.  

So, how does this relate to websites?

The three elements above are combined using a process called User Experience Journey Mapping into a visual representation of a user flow through your site.  

  • A User Experience Journey Map takes the path being navigated as its core component. 
  • This shows a user’s journey – the steps they go through, or the pages they must visit, to get something done.  
  • And then the user’s experience, their emotions, or how they feel about each point in the journey is added to the map.  

By mapping good and bad experiences onto the map, it shows which parts of the journey went well, and which could do with improvement.  

Creating a customer experience map

There are no specific rules to how a customer experience journey map should be created, meaning they can look very different from each other.  

  • Some include multi-channel behaviour bringing emails, social media, text messages, phone calls and face-to-face engagements in as steps on the journey. 
  • Business processes can be included to indicate how frontend interfaces and backend systems are contributing (or not) to the journey.  
  • They can span different timescales – from a few minutes to a multi-day complex interaction.  

Once produced, a User Experience Journey Map can be used in many ways. It can help identify pain points in an existing website design, or it could help to steer the design of a new website in the right direction. It can identify weak points in how an organisations processes are designed, or it could highlight opportunities for staff development and training.  

The act of creation can provide significant value

One thing not to be overlooked is the act of creating the map in the first place. Often this is done via a workshop which brings together colleagues who may be from different teams. It’s often the case that colleagues don’t get the opportunity to get together and analyse situations in this way and it’s common in these workshops for a lot of learning to take place very quickly. Colleagues can often be surprised to find out how other parts of the organisation are working. Frequently, opportunities for improvement are found, discussed and actioned all at the same time that the map is being created.  

This kind of process often involves copious sticky notes and can be a great activity for multi-disciplinary team away days.  

In this article we’ve introduced the concept of User Journey Experience Maps, in future articles we’ll take a closer look at some examples and examine how they can be used to help improve your organisation. From fixing website problems and improving the overall digital experience, to helping change the way your organisation runs.