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.