Tag Archives: journey map

Journey map: UX Deliverable to illustrate process

Jennifer Blatz UX Design user flow, user journey, journey map
A journey map can be used to help educate others on the steps in a process.

When working on a user’s experience, it is critical to have an understanding of what the user actually does. These steps in a user’s process is called a variety of things. Some call it a user flow or a journey map. Whichever term you use, the basic process is to show the high-level steps that user participates in when using a product or service.

As with many UX deliverables, there are a million ways to present the information and the design the product you are sharing. You can include certain components, or exclude others all based on a matter of factors including time, purpose, audience and important content that needs to be shared.  Basically a journey map can be as simple or complex as you choose to design it.

Jennifer Blatz Design UX design journey map, user flow sketch
Skating the user’s process is a great way to make sure you have captures all of the essential steps before creating your higher-fidelity deliverable.

For me, like with many processes in UX, I like to start with a rough layout or sketch. To create the final deliverable, I first went through the following steps:

  1. Conducted several rounds of observing of the user, including interviews  for clarification and process.
  2. Sat with more than one user, to capture diversity in the process as well as consistency and differences.
  3. Walked through the steps with others members of my team to educate them on the process as well as to gain an understanding of the different interpretations they have of the process.
  4. Gathered questions from my team members so I can revisit my users and get answers to these new questions.
  5. Sat with (more than one) user to get clarification on the potential gaps in the process as well as get the team’s clarifying questions answered.
  6. Reviewed my notes and understanding to come up with a basic user flow.
  7. Sketched out the basic steps, in my understanding, to review with the user.
  8. Again, sat with the user and go over my proposed steps in the journey for feedback, correction, updates and clarification.
  9. Simplified all of the steps captured to present only the most important information.
  10. I finally took this simplified process, and designed a graphic to illustrate the steps in the user’s journey to aid the team in understanding and to build empathy.

Yes I said it: Build Empathy. That really is the most valuable outcome (in my opinion) of creating a journey map.

Sure it’s great to have a general understanding of the steps involved in a process. It’s valuable to know what happens first, second and so on. And like I presented in my journey map, it’s interesting to know the user’s emotional state as he goes through each of those steps. And finally, it’s helpful to present possible solutions at various stages in the user’s journey to make that process better.

But likes I said before, the real value of a journey map is to build empathy. A strong journey map will showcase things like:

  • How many (often painful) steps a user must go through to complete a task.
  • The bad parts in the process, like delays and other pain points.
  • The user’s feelings as he goes through the steps, especially the bad feelings.
  • The numerous extra resources the users has to touch in order to complete the job.
  • The gaps in the process.
  • The additions that could be (hopefully eliminated)
  • The flaws in the technology and tools.

Empathy is the key to success when you want your developers and engineers to build great product with the user being a strong part of the equation — not just keeping in mind the time and technology restraints.

Journey map to understand the flow

Customer journey map, user flow, Jennifer Blatz UX Design
Understanding how the user will go through a process makes for a better design.

When a UI designer is assigned a new feature to build, it is crucial that you understand this process from the user’s point of view. You might think, “Oh I know all the steps the user will go through. I have it all in my head.”

Well I am here to tell you probably don’t have all of the steps the user might go through in your head. This is the advantage of creating a Journey Map. Call it what you will:

  • Journey map
  • User flow
  • Flow chart
  • Task flow
  • Customer journey map
  • Experience map

To me all of these terms are very similar. Yes I know I am bastardizing these terms by clumping them all together as one item. I understand there are difference in these terms and when they should be used. However, the point I want to make is just think about how the user will go through the process and make some sort of illustration to show these steps. You don’t have to use some fancy software like InDesign or Omnigraffle. Go completely low fidelity and just sketch it out on pencil and paper.

There are benefits of sketching the user flow on to paper and get it out of your head:

  • You think you have thought of all of the options. Well you have not.
  • You will discover unknown unknowns.
  • You might leave out a step when it’s left in your head. Drawing each step really fleshes out the process.
  • There will be additional avenues you have not considered that only sketching will bring to the surface.
  • It forces you to visually consider the options and how many additional steps those option might provide.
  • It illustrates how complicated a user flow can get. It’s often more detailed than we thought.
  • As with all sketches, it provides a great communication tool that you can then show to your team to continue the discussion.

So before you start designing any software, or mocking up any of your fancy ideas in Photoshop of Sketch, take a few moments do perform this crucial step of creating a  Journey map / User flow / Flow chart / Task flow / Customer journey map / Experience map. It’s a great idea to get any thought floating around in your head on to paper.