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  /  Website Design   /  What Is A User Journey Map & How Do You Make One?

If you are looking to create a new website or an eCommerce website, you should be looking for an agency that does website design in Dubai with a strong user experience (UX) focus. What this means is that your website development agency will start the project by first creating a customer/user journey map.

What is a user journey map? It is a visualization of the process that your potential customer/website visitor will go through to achieve a goal on your website, be it to purchase a product, to reach out and contact you, or whatever is suitable for your business objective. It combines storytelling and visualisation to help us immerse ourselves into the client’s experience. 

This process helps the website development company understand the purpose behind the project, and explain the process to the client in a much better way. It makes us think about the experience in a structured way and define the stages, sequences and transitions of the process. 

It also allows both the business and the digital agency to empathise with the user – by reliving the customer experience as a story, we can get a new understanding of their potential frustrations, confusions, and motivations in general. When you see that the customer has negative experiences in the process, the web design agency is able to work on it and improve the experience. 

We want to use our experience as a web design company in Dubai to introduce you to this process and terminology so that you know what to expect and how to ask for it. If you are an aspiring web developer, you could find this useful to get organized before your next project. 

In its most simple form, a journey map begins with making a list of user actions and placing them into a timeline. Then, you should focus on the narrative related to the timeline, including the thoughts and emotions you’re looking to evoke. Finally, the website designer can start the visualization. 

User Journey maps can vary greatly depending on the website requirement and the business in question. 

Some common types of journey maps include :

As-is maps as opposed to To-be maps

The as-is map describes the process in the current state, before any changes or improvements. This is a useful exercise because it helps the web designer explain the issues to the client company and why it is necessary to work on them. The to-be process is the future state, showing improvements. Many times comparing these two is needed because most people will take a state without obstacles for granted, however, it is important to understand how the mapping process gets you there.

User Journey as opposed to Customer Journey maps

Not all websites are eCommerce, so the term user journey is more all-encompassing than the commonly used term customer journey. Still, these maps follow the same structure and approach, but the persona is different. If the user’s main objective is to purchase products or services, we have to approach them as customers and shape the map around those terms.

Journey map as opposed to Experience maps

An experience map is a type of parent to journey map. An experience map doesn’t have a specific actor/user persona, it is broader and focused on a generic human undergoing a generic experience. An experience map is also product & business agnostic and serves to increase the understanding of general human behaviour. It helps in identifying and isolating some general pain points that can then be used for a journey map for a specific product. For example, an experience map can explain how a human being acts when they want to eat food. You can isolate some pain points such as cooking taking too much time and effort, going out being expensive or inconvenient, phoning to order leading to getting some details wrong etc, and then use this to create a user journey map for an online food delivery service.

Journey map as opposed to Service blueprints

Journey mapping is focused around your customer’s frontend experience interacting with the website user interface (UI), while blueprints revolve around the backstage and how that ties to the UX. A good website design agency is proficient in both frontend design and backend design. 

Journey map as opposed to User Story map

A user story map is used to plan for features and functionalities, where each of these is condensed to a brief description of the user’s POV – what does the user want to do, and how will the feature help them. This is used in Agile, and the format is a single sentence. A User Story map is a visual version of the same, which makes it similar to a journey map, however, while user journey maps are meant for discovery and understanding, the user story map is a smaller scope map used for planning and implementation. 

There are no one-size-fits-all templates, and journey maps can vary greatly. However, all journey maps have key elements in common. 

8 Main Elements To Build A User Journey Map:

Pick & Define Your Scope

Before diving in, you need to have a clear idea about what you wish to accomplish, the information you want to gather and other goals you have in mind. The scope of the journey can vary from a detailed map focusing on specific interactions, to a more high-level map showing the overall end-to-end experience.

You should also review the As-is and To-be states of the project, specifically if the goal is to improve an existing website, app or similar digital platform. 

Build a User Persona

This is the hypothetical person who will be experiencing the journey – the website user. The whole map is based on their point of view. 

By knowing the company’s target audience, we can find relevant data about this user and build a persona whose thoughts, preferences and behaviours we can outline. 

You need to ask yourself, who is your user, who is the target audience you are trying to reach? 

User research is a very important place to start to provide you with solid data and prevent you from making wrong assumptions. While your business or your digital agency can get a lot of existing generic data online regarding different demographics, we suggest doing some tailored work such as interviewing real or potential users, sending out survey emailers, using social media marketing tools, Google Analytics reports or conducting other inquiries to flesh out this step. 

Naturally, you may have more than one user persona you are targeting, so you need to highlight the main ones.

Outline Scenario/Expectations

The scenario is the situation that the journey map covers, which can be real or hypothetical. You also need to define the expectations the user persona will have about this interaction. Think of the situation and circumstances under which the user persona will operate, adding context to their actions, which will help you outline their expectations and motivations. 

For example, if the user wants to make a product order, his expectations may be easy search functionality and convenience and speed of the process. Or they might want to switch a service plan to include a larger scope and expect easily accessible information to help them find the best solution. 

Journey maps are ideal for scenarios that involve an event sequence (e.g. shopping), process descriptions, or multiple channels. 

Set Process Stages & Identify Goals For Each

Every user journey map will have a unique set of stages depending on the goals you are trying to achieve, however, typically there are four main broader stages these will fall under:

  • Awareness Stage – User-defined a problem they need a solution for and has turned to your brand to achieve this. Here you should define why they are searching for the product, what motivates them to buy it, and the moment they become aware of your brand *NB: A good search engine optimization (SEO) effort perhaps is what helped your website come on top!
  • Consideration Stage – This is when the customer decides if your products and services are relevant and helpful. UI design, especially appealing homepage design, is immensely important to get the visitors interested in your website and reduce the bounce rate. An intuitive website that instantly answers their questions is the only way to get more conversions since users have many options to choose from at their fingertips and will go for the one that seems the best and the most convenient
  • Decision Stage – Once your customer spent enough time gathering information, they are ready to finalize the purchase (or take other action, such as contacting you). The expectations here are focused on having a seamless, safe and convenient process, as well as good access to information about shipping and billing.
  • Retention Stage – After the initial purchase/action was taken, the user will evaluate their experience. If it was a positive and enjoyable one, your brand got itself a returning customer. If not, they will probably forget your brand and turn to other options next time. This means you have to pay attention to the quality of your customer support, delivery or return options, as well as additionally motivate the customer with loyalty programmes. 

These aren’t the only user journey stages you can focus on, for example, you can build a map around your user’s day in a life journey to see their ongoing interaction with your product. You can also consider the journey the customer takes when experiencing a problem, which can help you test the efficiency of your customer service and problem-solving abilities. 

The best way to start defining the phases is to think of the first and last stage of the journey and then fill out the steps that fall in between, breaking the journey into cohesive segments. 

Consider Actions, Thoughts & Feelings

To empathize and understand your user, you need to think in terms of:

  • Actions: the actual steps and behaviours the user persona takes during the process (tip: don’t be too detailed, focus on the essentials)
  • Thoughts & Mindsets:  As the user goes through the journey, what are thoughts, questions, and goals that drive their actions? What information does the user need at each stage? The goal here is to identify the user’s intention, the problems they are looking to solve. 
  • Emotions: Do they start with a curious enquiry or a sense of urgency? Do they experience frustration or ease when checking out? Throughout the journey, the user goes through emotional ups and downs (ideally, the user can start with the problem and end up feeling delighted. Alternatively, the user can end up frustrated, or experience annoyance during a specific step of the journey.) For this reason, it is important to add an emotional lane to the user journey map and visualize these ups & downs from start to finish – you can even go so far as to create an Empathy Map.
Make a List of Touchpoints

Touchpoints are users’ interactions with the product/business/brand. This is the stage where we outline all the digital or physical interaction with other tools, people or services on the platform. It is important to identify all the key touchpoints and channels associated with each, for example, a touchpoint can be “Purchase a present”, and channels for it would be “online” or “in a shop.”

Think of all the different ways your customer can interact with your brand and note down all the actions they take for each one. These can help identify opportunities for integration or possible inconsistencies and failings in the business offering. 

Make a Sketch the Journey

Use all the information you have to sketch the user journey as a step-by-step process, where each stage demonstrates the experience the user persona has with the brand (through their service/product). A storyboard can be a great way to depict this, and most professional advertising agencies in Dubai you’re working with have experience creating these for various purposes, including content creation for video production & animation. A storyboard will help you build a strong and coherent narrative that is easy to follow for everyone involved. 

Refine the User Journey

Now that you have a comprehensive and truthful narrative, you will be able to review the user journey and use the information gathered to improve your map further:

  • Locate the Pain Points

You will find that there are points in the user journey where your user persona experiences negative emotions, such as fear or providing personal details, frustration with having to fill a long form, feeling cheated with additional fees only communicated at the check-out, or confusion about where to go or which information to provide to proceed. Pain points can also be identified through actions that take effort from the user’s end, like manually filling out data. 

Once you have them all outlined, you can find ways to alleviate them, leading to a better and more seamless experience. 

  • Look for Opportunities 

Once the mapping is done, a lot of insight is gathered that will help you further optimize the user experience. You can consider what needs to be improved and what are some opportunities to further increase the positives. Having the journey mapped will allow you to spot steps in the process with potential for fresh ideas, which will improve your offer. 

Tip: As your brand evolves, so will your customer journey map. We can also take a more holistic approach to the user journey in marketing, and define it in a more general way as a visualization of an individual’s relationship with a brand itself. Therefore a highly professional & prestigious branding agency in Dubai should be approaching different aspects of design & branding through the user journey lens. 

Conclusion:

The benefits of UX mappings are many, for one, the process of creating a map helps align the whole team and the web development agency on the same mental model, which leads to a shared vision. The shared product that results from this process is a great way to communicate your understanding of the user and services and convey information in a way that is simple and impactful.

This process provides a holistic view of the user experience through a series of interactions on the digital platform. Every professional digital marketing agency in Dubai should integrate it into its website design process. It helps address customers’ pain points and create an overall more enjoyable and efficient user experience, which leads to return customers, brand recall and brand loyalty – not to mention a higher conversion rate. 

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