Journey Mapping

16m 27s

In their UX Roundtable video series, the UpTop Health UX team discuss Journey Mapping.

Moderator: Michael Woo (Director of UX)
Interviewees: Abbey Smith (UX Designer), Deborah Roberts (UX Designer), Michael Woo (Director of UX)
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Episode Transcript

Moderator/Michael: Hey, welcome to an episode of the UX Roundtable. I am joined by Deborah Roberts and Abbey Smith. Today’s topic is journey mapping, and we’re going to dive into a few aspects about journey mapping, and hopefully it’ll shed a little bit of light or a little bit more light on questions that you might have. It’s not a how-to, we’ll probably reserve that for a different episode. But with that said, let’s begin. So we have all heard how valuable journey mapping is as a tool to the design process. But I want to know if you guys, starting with you, Deborah, can you describe at a high level what journey mapping is and why it’s so critical to problem solving?

Deborah: Yeah. Well, I think at a very high level, it’s a visual way to see how users are engaging with your product or your tool, and it breaks it down at every single interaction point, which is so helpful. Because, first of all, you’re building empathy, so you’re looking at the interactions from your users’ point of view. And ideally, when you’re creating a journey map, you’re doing it with other people. And oftentimes, it’s very collaborative and it’s with people from different teams and departments, and it really helps to bring alignment around what some of the bigger pain points are.

And it also helps you to see how the different touch points connect to each other, how they’re related as a part of the larger journey. And this really is great, because it helps you to see what the root causes are for some of the problems, so that you’re actually trying to solve the right problem, not going off in a different direction. And it helps you to prioritize as well, things that might be quick wins, pain points that might have the largest impact, maybe they’re affecting different users. And it helps you to prioritize these things in a way that align with your business’s objectives.

So those, to me, are the biggest things. And essentially, as far as how it works, you’re actually creating a physical map. So you write out all the steps in the user journey, you have your persona, and you’re thinking, too, about their emotional state at each step, what their pain points are at each step, the actions that they’re taking. And so, by breaking it down in such a way, it really helps you to get to the root of what is going on.

Moderator/Michael: Those are great points. So if an organization is thinking about doing a journey map, whether in-house or having an agency do it for them, what are some of the steps that they need to take prior to actually beginning a journey map?

Deborah: So I’d say ideally doing some research up front is always great, because then you’re able to approach creating the journey map with actual insights. You could create one based on assumptions, but then you want to go back and do research after the fact to validate. So it depends, too, on your situation. If you are in a time crunch, need to hit the ground running, you could start with the assumptions. But ideally, it’d be great to start with research. So you could do that through user interviews, you could watch users as they’re engaging with your product, engaging with your tool, and then you take that research and you build out the map from there.

Moderator/Michael: Yeah. So you kind of just touched on that. The next question was, what type of journey maps are there? Because, obviously, there are different types, and you talk about potentially having research first, but in some cases there isn’t research. So could you begin without research?

Deborah: Yeah, you could. In fact, thinking of what types of journey maps there are, there could be a future state, right? So maybe you’re at the very beginning of creating a new product. And so, you don’t have research on an existing experience, but you can approach that with assumptions, maybe research you’ve done on that particular space, business space, product space, and do that to map up what potential pain points might be.

Moderator/Michael: Do you guys think it’s helpful to do both a current state and a future state?

Deborah: It certainly can be. Because it helps you to see where you are and then where you want to be. And that again, can help you to align around what are the areas that you really need to focus on to get you to that state. And I think that can also be a powerful tool to share with other people at your company, in your organization, to help you get on board, say, “Hey, if we make these changes and improvements, look where we can take our experience, look where we can take our product. And this is the impact it’s going to have for our users, for our customers.” And that’s a really powerful statement to take.

Moderator/Michael: Yeah, thank you. And this question is for you, Abbey. I’ve seen many different styles of journey maps out there, is there a right or wrong way to do one?

Abbey: Not necessarily. There are certainly guidelines to base your journey map off of. So how to set it up, how to ID what kind of steps that you’re going to take going through. There are many, many different examples for reference, depending on what industry that you’re in. So that can help you if it’s something that’s a first time. But you decide if want to use images or not, or how detailed do you want to get, if you want to use emojis to show how the user is feeling during something or not, or if you do it virtually or on paper, like Deborah was saying. So I think as long as the goal remains to just see what’s going on for the user at any given step of the process, I don’t think you can really do any wrong.

Moderator/Michael: Yeah. And you mentioned virtual. I know most of what we were used to prior to the pandemic was in-person, but we have since gone virtual. Can you talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages? Maybe there’s some stuff that we don’t know about.

Abbey: Yeah. I mean, for me, personally, I’m always an in-person kind of gal, but some advantages to doing things more virtually is you can include more people, especially right now, and those people can be anywhere. And the virtual tools that are out there now have really beefed themselves up, especially in the past year, to do real-time group editing, to have every kind of capability that you would have in person. But some advantages to in-person is it’s more tactile, right? So the human brain works best when moving things around in front of you, and it’s also easier to riff off of your counterparts and your co-workers as you’re collaborating real-time in person. And there’s a little bit of a different sense of camaraderie. You can get that still over virtual, but it’s a whole different kind of thing when you’re in person.

I think no matter what advantages or disadvantages, I think the real kicker is which one will help you brainstorm the best. So right now, the pandemic is trumping everything, so virtual would probably be the best way to go. But when things have settled back down, it would be good to investigate and take the time to figure out is this something that you can do virtually, is your team all available to come together on the same day, at the same time, for the same amount of time? So as long as whichever one you pick will help you brainstorm, I think you’re pretty good to go.

Moderator/Michael: Are there are any tools that are top of mind that you would recommend to our viewers?

Abbey: Sure. I mean, Deborah and I, we have both used Miro, which is pretty powerful and pretty great. Doing things on Zoom like this is the same idea for virtual things. And then pen and paper, I mean, always a good thing, even when doing virtual things by yourself, because there usually is some down time, alone time to do some brainstorming or ideation before you come back and do some collaborative steps, so things like that.

Moderator/Michael: Cool. Another question. So as people are starting to align around a journey map and prepare for the creation of one, who should all be involved?

Abbey: That’s a good question. So personally, I think grabbing at least one person from each team involved in the project would be ideal. So usually, that involves a designer and a developer and probably a project manager. And then, also someone who has some business stake in it, so someone from sales or marketing or maybe even bring in your business develop guy who has that outside knowledge and expertise of what the business leadership is looking to do with the project at hand. And then, making one of those people or even pulling in a separate person, deciding them as the decision maker. So whether that is the CEO or the VP or the customer experience lead, whatever makes sense for that specific project, to have someone to be a tie-breaker.

Moderator/Michael: Great. And this next question is for you, Abbey, since we’re talking to you already, but maybe talk about a recent example of a journey map that you’ve done, and touch on the challenge that you were initially facing, and how journey mapping was able to contribute to the positive outcome that you were looking for.

Abbey: Sure. So let’s see. A big one that I did was a post-purchase audit for a client of ours, Mattress Firm, a major mattress retailer around the U.S. And they were having a handful of issues or things that they wanted to bring to light in a more cohesive way. So what we did was we looked at everything that a customer did after they hit purchase on the website. So everything through talking to customer service, and what the language that customer service was using to the customer, to the PDF that a user gets emailed once they submit a return. And then all of the very, very fine detailed nitty-gritty in-between.

So it was a massive audit, and it took us about three months to do, which sometimes they can be big like that. But it gave us time to go through the entire journey mapping process for about five or six different personas. And that helped us get a really well-rounded outlook on how users interact with the company as a whole and not just one specific thing. So we gained a huge amount of insight from that. From not only how designers, how we could design things better, but how the internal teams within the organization could work better and more efficiently to make everything easier for the user.

Moderator/Michael: That one was completely remote, correct?

Pretty much, yeah. It was myself and one other designer who was working on it, so we were together in person, but all of the back and forth between the company and the users, that was all remote.

Moderator/Michael: Got it, got it. For sure. And what about yourself, Deborah, same question?

Deborah: Yeah, so most recently, I helped create a user journey map for a leading insurance company we were working with. And they were looking to reimagine an internal tool that they use to create quotes. So it’s a quoting and underwriting module is what we were working on. And the journey map actually ended up being a really key part of this project, because they had a pretty complicated workflow that involved multiple users, that they would pass things back and forth to each other in the process of creating a quote, and they were all using this legacy tool. And so, we started the process by doing some research. We had user interviews with the main users showing us walking through how they currently use their existing tool. And then from there we led their team, it was a cross-functional team, through a remote strategy sprint.

And we prepared by mapping out ahead of time what we believed the user journey map to be, which was really helpful, because it saved time. During the workshop it’s really fast-paced, we’re trying to pack in a lot of activities, and it’s definitely an investment to have everyone together in a room for that period of time. And so, we prepped it out ahead of time, and then we reviewed it with everyone, the main users. There were the VP, there was IT represented. The journey map itself just helped to align the team. That was one of the biggest takeaways, was it helped to align the team around where the largest pain points were, really how many shortcomings there were in the existing tool. And then, we aligned around couple of key areas that we wanted to focus on as we were working on the envisioning for this new tool.

And we received feedback after the fact from the VP that that process was so helpful for them to really understand their users’ workflow, because it is complicated and they were looking at ways to improve it. And so, doing that journey map really was helpful, not only to prioritize for our project, but just for them internally to get a better sense of the workflow that was happening.

Moderator/Michael: Yeah, thank you. Those are great insights. And it just shows you how valuable a tool it is to our process in general. Is there anything else you guys want to add about journey mapping?

Deborah: Just that you should do it.

Abbey: Yeah, 100%. Don’t let it deter you because it’s a little bit of a lengthy process, it’s really, really insightful to do.

Deborah: Yeah. And I think it’s motivating. It brings it back to the person and your reason for maybe creating this product or service in the first place.

Abbey: Absolutely.

Deborah: Yeah. And I think that’s motivating. I know it’s motivating for me to really see how I can improve people’s experiences in such a tangible way.

Moderator/Michael: Yeah. I think on the surface it looks complicated, but it actually isn’t that complicated. I think once you get into it, it’s really fun. And I know you just can’t stop wanting to contribute to it, to flesh it out and really see it come to life. And that is actually a point I wanted to add is that journey maps are living, breathing things, it changes as your business changes. Just because you do one doesn’t mean it’s done. You need to revisit and make sure that your touch points are up-to-date and that you’re constantly trying to address the issues that are identified within it.

Abbey: Absolutely.

Moderator/Michael: Thanks for sharing everybody. Appreciate it.

Abbey: Thanks.

Deborah: Thanks.