A big challenge we grapple with in the industry involves determining the behavior and desires of our client’s customers. Who are they, what are they interested in accomplishing, where are they engaging from and how are they approaching their search are just a few of the questions that flood our curiosity. With so many variables to assess, we can sometimes find ourselves asking, “where does the process begin?”
As with many dilemmas in this world, the answer can be found if we zoom out from the individual components to get a better glance at the overall story. If we place our creative lens on how the customer maneuvers through the website, we can track their behavior and use that information to inform design, development and stature. We can then create a story of why the user is there and where they are headed.
Journey mapping allows you to find the gaps in the story, which will in turn help you provide the best user experience.
Imagine you are a detective looking at all the present data to help define why and how a crime was committed, except in this case there is no crime, but rather a selection of consumers with varying demands. Using both analytical and anecdotal research, you start to piece together the crime scene (i.e. the consumer goals and behaviors). This data will help tie all the portions together, help you nab the criminal and prepare a case to present to the judge. Tools such as Google Analytics and interviews with existing customers are two examples of methods for collecting and preparing data channels. Journey mapping gives you the sense of beating the pavement to find hints and get leads to solve your case.
A two-prong approach will help you identify issues and support decisions moving forward. Using personas, you can make judgments on who exactly the criminal is and why they would commit the crime. Create a handful of fictional website visitors, envisioning their lifestyle, age and other demographic information to build your target audience. Continually revisit these characters throughout the development process. Honing this skill will save time not only at the end of the process but throughout it as well.
Part two of the approach will interpret that information and help you create a product that will be better, stronger and work more efficiently for your client. Now that the pieces of the crime scene are determined, it’s time to construct a model that will help you figure out what the next steps are and how that can be carried through the entire process of design and development.
Create a board where you can post the needs of the client and how they physically walked through the site. It’s a visual road map that each team member can add to, building on the structure of how the user navigated the site. The key is to determine touch-points that can interconnect the user’s interactions on the site.
Determining the user flow and journey map of the personas you’ve created will provide context and ensure cohesion on the site when moving on to wire framing, design and development. You’ve figured out who your audience is, why they are there and what they will do with what’s available. With that knowledge, you can make the user experience easier and more rewarding and ultimately generate enduring customer relationships as a result.