Every technological process involves a necessary series of steps, or clear set of conditions, that must be met, one-by-one, for the overall project to be a success.
This is especially true for mobile apps, whose users are interested in an additional, all-important element – convenience. In order to be successful in today’s on-the-go mobile culture, app developers need to offer convenient, streamlined experiences for their users.
This is harder to do than it seems. Every time a mobile app frustrates a user’s expectations, that user experiences friction. If your application causes too much friction, users will drop it in favor of a more fully developed one that gets the job done in fewer steps and with less uncertainty.
Journey mapping is one of the most effective ways to identify and resolve UX friction before users do. It offers useful insight into how your users navigate the terrain your app provides and breaks down the value that you offer them.
Defining the Journey Mapping Concept
The point of a journey map is to create a roadmap for users’ interactions within your product or service. This serves as a guide that helps you identify where friction could occur.
For instance, if you need users to input data so that a process can move on to the next step, you might give that a single point on the journey map. Then, depending on the data, the user may travel to one or more destinations on the map from there.
Developers can use this concept to minimize friction by reducing the overall number of steps that users must take. In the example just described, a developer may choose to automatically populate data fields using a custom API integration with a third-party service that already has the users’ data. The result would be a more seamless user experience (UX).
But journey mapping doesn’t just cover what happens when things go smoothly. It must also cover errors and other problems.
What happens if the custom API integration fails at pulling user data from a third-party source? Many developers would simply throw up an error screen and have the user contact customer support – but journey mapping offers a better option.
How to Create a Journey Map
The key to successful journey mapping is generating realistic user personas and following them through a graphic chart that indicates every step in your application. The result will be a fully descriptive UX map that represents the user’s needs and expectations as he or she moves towards a goal.
The journey map itself can be a simple flow chart. It only needs to indicate, as comprehensively as possible, all the potential outcomes that the technology in question can offer. After you introduce believable user personas into the flow chart, you have a behavioral blueprint that you can use to define how real users may interact with your app.
Let’s take the example of an unsuccessful API process. If an API is handling data retrieval from a third-party service and a segment of your user base doesn’t use that third-party service, there is a clear potential for UX friction. Crafting a user persona can help identify why those users don’t use that service and what they do, instead.
You can use the journey map to identify routes that will streamline the UX for those users as well. You can apply this process to any user group you wish to define if you can create a realistic persona to represent it.
Be sure to include important aspects of the persona’s emotional state – this creates the foundation for a frictionless UX. Include the following information with every important step in your application’s process:
- What is the user doing at this moment?
- What is the user thinking about during this step?
- How does your user feel during this step?
- What does your user think about your product, service, or brand?
- What can you improve from this specific point?
By paying attention to these five aspects, and developing a complete journey map, you can remove user roadblocks and create a better, more streamlined UX that accounts for all – and not just some – of your users.