Think about a process – any process – that’s part of your design space and articulate it with a journey map.
WHY use a journey map
- A journey map can help you gain further empathy for your user. By systematically thinking through the steps and milestones of a process, you’ll realize complexities and subtleties you might have overlooked. For example, mapping the process of applying to college, from initial research into colleges to packing for freshman year, exposes the huge variety of experiences that an applicant goes through in a relatively short space of time.
- A journey map can help you refine your focus within your design space. If you’re designing the college application process, a journey map could help you realize that you’re really interested in the process of helping the applicant get good recommendation letters.
- Mapping out a process is an excellent way to communicate that process to others, whether they’re others on your team or outsiders who you’re getting up to speed.
HOW to use a journey map
- Create diagrams that capture a process, leveraging your observations of that process. This could be a map of a user’s day, a map of a user’s experience, or a map of how a product moves through space and time (from manufacturing to store shelf to user’s hands).
- Start with a process or journey that is relevant to your problem space, but don’t be afraid to map out processes that are more specific or less obviously related. For example, even if you’re not designing breakfast cereal, you could consider your user’s morning breakfast routine. This could tell you a lot about that person’s attitude towards routine, family relationships, and cleanliness, among other things.
- You can change the time scale of a journey map to suit the process you’re interested in. You could capture every event of one person’s exercise in a month – and consider who she was with, where she came from, where she exercised, and where she went afterwards. Or you could capture a complete day during which your user exercised, starting with waking up in the morning and finishing with going to bed.
- It’s important to be thorough and comprehensive in the story you choose to capture. (Don’t overlook the opening of the window shades in the morning breakfast routine.) These trivial-seeming details could actually be the nuggets that develop into a stunning insight.
- You don’t have to create the journey map yourself. You can ask a user to draw a journey map and then explain it to you. (This is a variant of the user-driven prototype, where you learn from your user by watching them create.)
- Organize the data in a way that makes sense: a timeline of events, a number of parallel timelines that allows for easy comparison, a series of pictures, or a stack of cards. Then look for patterns and anomalies and question why those themes or events occurred. Push yourself to connect individual events to a larger context or framework. It is often the pairing of an observation with the designer’s knowledge and perspective that yields a meaningful insight.