JOURNEY MAPS. A global vision of your user’s experience.

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Of all the existing techniques, Journey Maps are one of the most widely used and powerful tools in the UX. It helps to see and explain the contact points and user experiences for a better interaction in the design, development or improvement of the services and / or products of our company. These maps are used to obtain a global vision of the user experience within a product or service and to identify the aspects that can be improved.  

In a Customer Journey Map, we can visualize in one unique place: the objectives, the actions and the time scale of all the steps that an average person must go through. Also we can see their thoughts and perceptions, both positive and negative in each of these steps. It is a very powerful and fundamental tool because it summarizes the user experience and interaction combining narrative and visualization.

In this article, we are going to focus on classifying the different existing maps. Also on why we need information for their design and how to obtain it. Creating a good Journey Map  requires analysis and data, synthesis and clarity. In addition, it is essential to make sure that all involved parties, the stakeholders, understand the results and the map. 

TYPES OF JOURNEY MAPS

First of all, it is important that we start differentiating between the various types of Journey Maps and when we should use them. Although they share similar characteristics, their main differences are based on the name of the main users of the experience.

1. CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAP

We tend to use the Customer Journey more frequently because it includes all the transactions and interactions of the buyer itself: from its first steps when the user is interested until the purchase or use of the service is made. It contains a detailed description of all the interaction points in which the needs, problems and moods are mainly considered.

Ejemplo de Customer Journey Map
Source: Nielsen Norman Group

A few years ago, the purchase process was considered to include only the time of purchase. However, it is currently verified that the user begins its journey much earlier. Sometimes, 70% of the Customer Journey is said to be completed before contacting the company (Erskine, 2017). We also have to consider after-sales steps as part of the customer journey too. 

The process can be very short, like routine grocery shopping, or it can be time-consuming, like buying a car or business software that requires updates.

2. USER JOURNEY MAP

A User Journey Map is similar to a customer Journey Map but with a larger reach. The main difference is that a relationship client-supplier it does not necessarily have to exist. We can create a User Journey Map we we want to analyze the experience of employees or people in general (citizens or users of a public service for example).

3. EMPLOYEE JOURNEY MAP

The Employee Journey Map is based on the most important steps and activities of employees, along with additional relevant information, which is usually in the company’s internal system. It is very useful, as it helps boost commitment, job satisfaction, the identification of employees with the brand and productivity, among others. Also, it helps to understand to what extent their experience influences that of the client, in order to identify improvements.

Ejemplo de Employee Journey Map
Source: https://www.clearworks.net/services/customer-experience/

4. EXPERIENCE MAP

It helps us build empathy and configure an image from the customer’s perspective. This map focuses more specifically on their experience and emotions. It is essential, not only to know the positive feelings but also the negative ones to identify possible areas for improvement.

Ejemplo de un Experience Map de un embarazo
Source: Nielsen Norman Group (

5. SERVICE BLUEPRINT

Finally, the Service Blueprint is like a Customer Journey that additionally includes all the interaction points and means of the company that make it possible. It is, of all, the most complete and the most complex to design. 

In addition, it encourages employees to know and better explain the characteristics of the company to improve the customer experience in all touchpoints. As an example, in the movie The Founder (2017) the creators of McDonald’s design the blueprint on a tennis court.

Ejemplo de Service BluePrint
Source: http://www.adaptivepath.com

RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE USER MAP

We could actually design a map with assumptions of our own knowledge, but this carries risks such as anecdotally considering specific issues. Or that the team designs an incomplete and inaccurate map that alters the experience. Thus, we always advise against this option.

Therefore, the ideal is to start collecting and building data that we already have from our clients, both qualitative and quantitative, that provide us with ideas on how to deal and shape the content of our research.

About research or investigation, we can start with the use of quantitative data, such as web analytics. Thus, we will obtain a very general first approximation of the perception of the relationship of the company and its audience. However, when it comes to understanding our users, it will be more convenient to carry out an analysis of all the relevant data we have from users, as well as the use of surveys. Qualitative data will allow us to understand their whys, their emotions, ways of thinking and motivations.

Among the different research techniques, we highlight:

  1. In-depth interviews with users or clients. Perhaps the most relevant, since it helps us to know what steps each user follows and how they feel at each point. It is important to note that what people say they do is not always what they actually do. For this, we can ask direct questions in relation to each touchpoint of the service / product or with broad questions about both positive and negative emotions of the process. To do this, we recommend conducting interviews with users, either in person or remotely, to obtain first-hand information. If we do it in person, the good thing is that we have more possibilities to rely on visual tools that help us to identify the points of friction with the user more clearly, as well as various emerging needs.
  2. Ethnographic studies. This particular fieldwork methodology is carried out in a natural context of user interaction with the product / service, either at home or during the purchase process, for example.
    Without a doubt, a good observation in a natural environment can help us discover new meanings and blind spots that in personal interviews would be difficult to take into account, such as in the use of protocols or procedures for action.
  3. User Diaries. It is about asking the user to take notes to record everything that happens to them (what they did, how they felt) in their interaction about a specific objective, such as buying a television, subscribing to a channel payment, etc. This is very useful as a method to understand the thoughts, feelings and actions of users over time. It is inexpensive and you just have to start it in the background while doing other types of research, as the results of our daily notes make more sense in long-term studies.
  4. Competitive analysis. Very useful if we have the idea of designing the journey map of a product or service that does not yet exist. With this research technique, we can get an idea about how it works in the competition. To do this, it may be interesting to conduct usability tests in the competitions websites to better understand the thoughts, emotions and motivations at some relevant points and thus have some basic information that allows us to redirect our Journey Map.

CONCLUSIONS

In summary, the Journey Map allows us to visualize in one unique place all the interaction steps of a service or product over time. 

From before trying it to his subsequent experience. It also shows needs, inefficiencies, frustrations, problems, motivations, missed opportunities and rethinking of costs. In this way, by articulating the most relevant moments, we will be able to extract important ideas and alternatives for improvement in the design. It will imply a meticulous research process. 

However, if a Journey Map is well designed, It will help all stakeholders better understand their product / service and help the company improve its efficiency and competitiveness. 

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