What are user journeys?
A user journey is a path a user may take to reach their goal when using a particular website. User journeys are used in designing websites to identify the different ways to enable the user to achieve their goal as quickly and easily as possible.
User journeys map out every step to reach a goal
User journeys are the step by step journey that a user takes to reach their goal. This journey will often consist of a number of website pages and decision points that carry the user from one step to another. The user journey is used to map out the current journey a typical user might take to reach their goal. This journey is then redesigned to form an ‘ideal’ user journey free from frustration. The output is traditionally a flow diagram demonstrating each page and decision point throughout the entire process.
First, understand who is using your website
In order to create realistic user journeys, it is important to first identify the users through an exercise called user profiling. Each user will have a task or goal they are trying to reach on the website, whether it is purchasing a product, finding opening times or cancelling a direct debit in a bank. Users have a need they must fulfil, and the steps they take to satisfy that need is referred to as a user journey.
Second, map out the easiest user journey
Each user goal can be first mapped out using the current website to identify any flaws or frustrations. This is often referred to as user journey mapping or customer journey mapping. Once an understanding of existing user journeys is fully illustrated, website designers can set out their recommended user journey – one which is as simple and easy as possible for users to reach their goals. This will form the basis of the new website.
Be confident that the website will cater for users needs
The map of the existing user journey provides a clear view on how easy or difficult it is for a typical user to reach their goal. This map will speed up the planning of a new website because it immediately highlights the current issues. If this map is then followed by an ideal user journey map, the project team get a quick feel for how the website should work, what content and functionality are required to meet the user needs, and what aspects of the website must be in place to support the journey.
Developing a website around the real user journeys provides confidence that the final solution will cater to the needs of real people.
Start with the best possible user journey, then compromise
The ideal journey can often prove to be difficult to implement, with business objectives and technical/design limitations impacting the ability to produce a quick journey; it is therefore important to create the ideal journeys with a multidisciplinary team to ensure all angles are covered. Balancing user goals and business goals is very important at this stage to ensure both are taken care of without impacting each other.
User journeys are critical in the design of new websites by highlighting the current issues and producing an ideal picture from a typical user’s perspective early in the process. As long as the project team includes web designers to help balance the business goals with the user goals, the user journeys are invaluable in creating a new website.