A website user journey—or consumer (persona) journey—is an important web development tool that predicts every scenario in which a user could potentially engage with your site. The journey illustrates two important things:
1) how users engage with your website and
2) how they could engage with your products.
A ‘user journey’ is a development concept that is best visualized, but how in the heck do you illustrate something so ephemeral, variable, and personal? Well friends, that’s where user journey maps come in, so put away your Google Maps and Waze because where we’re going, there are no roads.
What is a User Journey Map?
User journey maps predict the movements that you want a customer to take while on your website. They help you visualize the ideal path that a customer should take through your site, beginning with the discovery and ending with continuous advocacy… hopefully.
User journey mapping is crucial on your treasure hunt for more engagements by helping you understand where you have key interactions and touchpoints on your website. These maps also note and predict your customers’ possible motivations, goals, and emotions.
UX Marks the Spot
User journey maps are incredibly useful tools for any company interested in improving their user experience (UX) design and site optimization. They provide great visual representations of how a customer will most likely interact with your website. But you shouldn’t just scribble it on a piece of paper and call it a day. The design process is the most important part.
The UX creative process allows you to step into your customer’s shoes so you can see your website through their eyes. Really get to know them. How do they think? What do they feel? What are they curious about? Do they like long walks on the beach? What do they really need?
It’s important to understand your audience on a deeper, more intimate level to determine the ideal functionality, user interface, and website taxonomy needed to foster loyalty.
Pretend you’re BFFs and you wanna give them a website for their 45th birthday—you gotta make it perfect. All of this information will help you build the perfect website to tend to their needs and wants.
Mapping and Optimizing Your Site for Success
Mapping the customer journey provides you with valuable insight into the minds of your customers at each step of the way. Once a journey map is completed, you can visualize and optimize it to achieve specific preferred outcomes.
The first thing to remember about UX is that customers’ experiences are completely unique, so you need to develop different maps for each of your personas to cover all of your bases. Maintaining a consistently personalized and relevant experience requires you to have a constant source of new data.
Where do you get all this information? Customer journey maps integrate data and research from real-life behavior in order to predict future website usage. In order to obtain this information, you will need to ensure that your website is optimized to help you understand your visitors’ preferences. Website optimization aids you in identifying where you need to improve your interface and how you can exceed your customers’ expectations.
Now Map it Out
Whoa there Nelly, slow down. You’re no cartographer just yet. Before we can even get to mapping user journeys, you gotta make sure that you’ve mapped your own self-journey. This isn’t turning into a self-help book, I promise. I’m talking about understanding your business goals before diving into the thick of it.
The journey you create for your customer needs to address their goals without compromising on your goals as a company.
Next, you’re going to be relying on the research and data—quantitative and qualitative—that you’ve already synthesized. Quantitative data comes from direct interactions with your audience, such as through interviews and observations. Qualitative data will allow you to see your website through the lens of your customer and gain insight into their thoughts and emotions.
Ok, now we can get into the fun stuff. These are the 6 steps you should follow as you embark on the voyage of user journey mapping.
Step 1: Choose Your Peeps
First things first, you gotta identify your target audience. The best way to do this is to design a customer persona that represents who you are trying to cater to. Make multiple personas—one for each person you would like to provide for.
Broad attributes such as age, geographic location, and occupation are important, but don’t forget to dig deeper into what their regular tasks and habits may be, and what browser they use to surf the web (yes I still say “surf the web.” I’m trying to bring it back). Don’t go too deep—you don’t need to know what kind of car they drive… looking at you Facebook.
Step 2: Find the Touchpoints
After you’ve identified your desired audience, you can fabricate a timeline of user actions and goals. This order of actions is the foundation on which you will build your user journey map.
The most common order of actions (the sales funnel) are discovery, research, purchase, and utilization, and each of these steps features multiple points of interaction with your brand.
Step 3: Weave a Narrative
To make your user journey map more accurate, you should use your qualitative research to inform what thoughts and emotions will lead to different usage outcomes.
The particular points that you should pull from your qualitative research include the user’s actions, motivations, and feelings at every step. In addition to considering the happy and positive emotions of your customer experience, you also want to think about the frustrations and sticking points they may experience. What is really wrecking their highs and why?
Step 4: Become Bob Ross
Now you have a working user journey map (mazel tov), but you’ll want to make it easy to utilize—images and icons will make your data much easier to understand. Turning your text or excel-based map into a visual representation can be as easy as doodling on sticky notes and displaying them on your fridge like something your kid made. Be proud of yourself—this isn’t easy.
Step 5: Make Sure it Works
The best way to get in the mind of your customers and understand what they need is to take the customer journey yourself. Take a moment to experience what your customer does and reflect on the process you just drafted. What obstacles did you face? At what point—if any—were you having fun?
Walkthrough the customer journey for each of your customer personas and see how it differs for each. You can figure out what parts of the journey are great for each persona and where they might stall. Gaining a sense of perspective will make your website user flow ironclad.
Make any necessary changes to your user journey map now because things are about to get spicy. So far, all of this has been conceptual, but now you can take what you’ve learned and put it all into action on your website.
Step 6: Keep Making it Better
This map may be completed, but work is never done when it comes to marketing. Improving and updating a customer journey map is a never-ending process—you have to keep testing and researching.
Review your map regularly so you can change it as needed—monthly or quarterly should do the trick. Whenever you update your map, make sure to utilize recent analytics and customer feedback. These are the best ways to check for new and unforeseen roadblocks on your website.
Map Makers and Swashbuckling Marketers
At Intuitive Digital, we have UX designers and SEOers who work with user journey maps every day. Building personas and drafting customer flow patterns and touchpoints can be a challenge for smaller businesses or people with little experience in UX. Hiring professionals can remove the uncertainty, confusion, and intimidation of it all so you can feel confident in your website’s layout and design. Anyone can make a website, but you need to hire a professional to make one that works. Reach out today and learn more about how we use user journey maps to drive higher engagements.