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Shaking up early product development, part 1: Using journey mapping to improve your user journey

Martyn Evans, April 27, 2016

We're all trying to create a product or service that is valuable to our users. So it’s important to remember that the only people who can really think like our users are our users. Looking at our product or service through the eyes of our users is vital in creating the right platform for them.

Journey mapping is a very useful way of developing the user journey of your customer through your service. It’s a way of getting into the shoes of your users and seeing your service from their eyes. Instead of thinking about the problems you have, it’s about thinking about the problems that they have - and how you can add value by solving these problems.

Map, re-map, and then map again

In agile, you will generally see lots of post-it notes, constantly mapping and capturing ideas in the most visible and simple form. It makes it possible to move these ideas around, mapping them, then re-mapping them. When creating a digital service, the digital journey part is often only a small part of a much bigger experience. It’s useful to think about your user's journey through this whole experience. For example, how did they find out about this particular service? How do they engage with it?

Early product development

Managing your users’ expectations

Once you start to understand the journey your users might take through your service, you can then start to think about what they’re expecting to see and when. What should you provide at each stage? There are some linear things that users might expect when using your service without which, they’ll be unhappy. And there are features they could never have named, but when they are offered make the user very happy! So expectations can be subtle and wide ranging.

What is on the mind of your user?

Work through the user journey and try to identify what is on the mind of your user:

  • What is your user is thinking about?
  • What is your user expecting?
  • What is your user feeling?

Also, ultimately, at what point they might say: “This is no good” and give up.

Where to start?

Identify your users’ pain points. Think about how they feel throughout the journey and understand each type of user more specifically by identifying each of the pain points they may experience. Keep asking yourself “How can we help our users with this journey?” and “How can we improve this for them?”.