Step 2 - User Journey

This chapter describes the second step in the framework, revolving around the user journey of the product explaining how this lays the foundation for future product development.

Step 2: The user journey – or – How users will interact with our product

The user journey connects both elements from step 1, the target audience and the product, by describing how the target audience will interact with our product. The interaction takes place from the very first touchpoint with the product to the very last – a process we call “user journey”.

It is important that we model all steps, from the very first touchpoint, to the very last. If our product can be found online, the first touchpoint might be a search on google while the very last touchpoint could be recommending the product after buying it. The more complete our journey is, the better we can understand the product we need to build. Always ask yourself if there is one more step prior to your first, or one after your last, that you might have missed. Because if your product is great, but no one can find it while shopping, it will not be successful.

The main goal in this step is understand how users interact with our product. Based on that knowledge, we then define and create a product. By doing so, we base all our product decisions and features upon the ideal customer’s experience, thus increasing our chances of success with our customers.

Note that these early steps are highly conceptual and creative, meaning it is highly recommended to do this in a workshop setting with a diverse group to gather different views. Try to include actual customers for your future product into this. Other perspectives, like Marketing, Sales, Development or others all bring valuable insights to the table. If we make this a “Dev-Team-only” meeting we will miss a lot of opportunities.

The high level product flow

The high level flow shows the most important steps of using our product and connecting them in a way that the user interacts with it. Some (very basic) example steps for a new pizza delivery app might be:

  1. Search app on appstore / Click on advertisement
  2. Install & open app
  3. Select pizza
  4. Checkout
  5. Rate experience in appstore
  6. Recommend app to friends

If we have an existing product, we start with mapping out the status quo and from there develop the future state. If our product is a brand new one, we can directly map out how the product flow is supposed to be, viewed from the user’s perspective.

There are two important things to consider when doing this:

  • Level of Detail: The main benefit of such a visual overview is that it gives us just that, an overview. If we divide this into too many steps, it will become messy and create more confusion than alignment. Of course level of detail depends on the product’s complexity, but the goal here is to get a complete overview of how users actually experience your product. So complete coverage of your product is much more important than detailing every step. As a general advice, just start mapping out the steps, and when you see it gets to complicated, combine steps to achieve a higher level of abstraction.
  • The user’s perspective: It is imperative, that all this is captured from the user’s perspective. That means here it is not important that in step X all our data is stored in a fancy database, because our users most likely do not care (except if we are marketing a database product of course) – so in each step we describe what the user expects to do, not what technology we use to accomplish that.

User Journey Map

The user journey map is based on the previously completed high level product flow and focuses on two things:

  • How is the experience of users along the high level flow with our product?
  • What could be done in each step to improve that?

We can think of the user journey map as an extension of the high level product flow. The high level product flow visualizes what steps users experience when interacting with our product. The user journey map goes more into detail on each step and visualizes how happy they are at each step and based on that lists potential improvements to the user’s experience at each step.

Here’s an example how a user journey map could look like, based on a previously completed high level product flow:

The user journey map has the following info:

  • On the left hand side: The personas involved in this journey as well as a short summary, giving context, so it can also be understood by stakeholders who are less involved.
  • In the middle: The emotion-curve, showing how satisfied/dissatisfied users are at each step
  • And most importantly at the bottom: Opportunities and improvements (sometimes also called “features” or “epics”), encapsulating what to achieve to make our customers happier.

These captured high-level opportunities and improvements form the basis for all further requirements, as these will be prioritized, broken down into actionable work items and finally be planned in a roadmap.