Thomas, a skateboarding fan, wants to change his beloved (but quite worn out) skateboard. He browses the website of his favorite sports brand, looks for skateboards using categories, filters down to refine results, explores and compares the ones that he likes the most, finally adds one to the shopping cart and proceeds to payment.
Put that way, one would think it’s a relaxed, swift (and successful) experience, but in fact, the process is more complex, and we are not taking into account many factors that affect the series of actions:
- What’s the profile of this customer?
- How does he access our website? In what context?
- What’s he feeling?
- Are there obstacles that make the purchase difficult for him?
Those are only a few of the variables at play. So how can we ease the purchase experience even more and make it something memorable that customers will want to repeat?
User Journey Mapping
When designing or improving the user experience, we apply the concept of user journey mapping, which can be broken down as follows:
- User: Whom is the experience for?
When working on UX, first we must survey what the user’s needs and expectations are, as well as the socio-economic and physical context. In this case, we will also consider the moment when the action is taking place. Interviews to users, empathy maps, and user personas are essential for the process.
- Journey: When does the journey begin and what’s the destination?
Going back to our example, we can say that the experience has a clear beginning and end: it begins with Thomas’s need or wish to purchase a new skateboard and it ends when he actually makes the purchase. Everything that happens between those two moments is also important for us.
- Mapping: Uncovering the Path
Mapping allows us to represent the above information through a diagram. The experience is divided into stages where the user’s actions, thoughts and emotions are described. That allows us to identify pain points and opportunities upon which we can act.
In conclusion, user journey mapping is a helpful tool for everyone involved to globally visualize the user’s mental and actual journey and the different interactions they make to achieve a specific goal, while considering their perspective and the context. With this resource, we will be able to find insights that can then provide guidance to our work, bring added value and define our horizon.