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Karol Oponowicz
UX Design

User Journey Mapping in Practice. Part 1: What? When? and How to Setup the Workshops?

User Journey Mapping (UJM) is one of the exercises that really helps to structure the UX design. In UJM we look at the user needs and behaviors from different angles and perspectives. In UJM, you use carefully organized workshops to learn and discover different layers of information about your user & product context. This allows us to find the best user interface solutions that can deliver your value to the customer. Here's how we understand and use UJM in practice.

When will you need UJM workshops?

Here are the situations when organizing a User Journey Mapping workshop can be of maximum benefit for your company or a project:

When you plan to launch a new product or a new feature.

When you want to introduce a new flow to your existing product.

When you'd like to run an audit on your current UX (or business) process.

When looking for a new strategy and considering a pivot to your product.

When you need to create new KPIs for measuring performance.

When you need to verify your users' needs and the product's pain points.

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UJM is a workshop methodology that can significantly improve the organization of your knowledge. We've been using this framework for several years, and each time our clients have the opportunity to learn something new about their customers (users) and themselves.

We have applied UJM in different projects for both startups coming up with new innovative products and for corporations with developed, established systems, where we often took over just a part of the development process. We've done it in different industries, for clients from Istanbul, London, Oslo or Warsaw.

From this experience, we learned that although the mapping methodology is well proven while you can do 60% of the workshop "by the book," still a good team needs to improvise around 40% of the time. Why is that so? UJM is a complex and creative process because usually some pieces of the puzzle are missing and you need to figure out how to fill in the blind spots of knowledge. For example, sometimes no one in the room knows the answer for a specific tech issue - that's the time when you need to speculate a bit. It's also a process where the interaction between the participants can have a major effect on the product. That's why you almost always need a highly skilled facilitator to make the most of the workshops.

A great UJM team knows how to do it by the book, but also knows how to improvise. By far the most effective way of having a workshop is to have everyone in one room. If it's not possible for everyone to meet face to face, then we can arrange a workshop through Skype.

How to set up a User Journey Mapping workshop properly?

The workshops last one or two days. In order to have satisfactory results from the workshops, you probably need at least one or two weeks to prepare. First of all, you need to gather all the necessary information like business goals, which can be set and measured easily: reducing the time of service, increasing profit, driving new users, etc. To do it right, you need to ask the client directly and try to find an answer to these key questions:

What is the clients biggest motivation behind the product's development?

What existing problem would you like to solve by creating this product?

How (exact steps & actions) your product is going to fix that problem?

How are you going to measure your product's performance & success?

How are you going to check and validate is your product needed?

What is your product's value proposition and is it valuable to the user?

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The interview with the Client.

We arrange a meeting with our client to clear out all the topics that are missing. Here's what we'll usually ask you some critical questions.

What are your key business goals and motivations? What is the competence of your team and organization?

From our perspective, there are two different groups of clients: product owners who perfectly know their business. They have unique insights into the market and can efficiently act as an example of a User Persona (UP). The second group is investors who want us to deliver the know-how.

What are the roles of the project's stakeholders, and how does the decision-making process work. How many people take part in the decision-making process?

What is the chain of command, and how to adjust it to the agile development approach? How frequently can we communicate? It's a big difference if we are going to talk every hour or once a week.

And finally, we ask if you know who your User is. What are your product's User Personas?

In the next parts of our guide to User Journey Mapping, you will get to know the key facts about User Personas, learn how to build your own UJM, and see the examples of UJM workshops we made with our clients.



Briefing before the Workshops

And those questions are just the beginning of creating a proper well-written Workshop Brief. Which is indispensable for a successful UJM workshop. There are still some essential elements of the project that you need to set before you will perform the workshops. Here are the most important that you should include.

The list of critical functionalities. It should be minimalistic, and you should ask yourself, "is it the thing they need" every time you plan to add a new feature.

Project's timeline, stages, and current status. Sometimes the project had a previous release and investigating it usually brings us a lot of useful insight.

Preferable tech stack. Sometimes the teams we work with are already attached to an idea of the technology they'd like to use. You need to verify if it's indispensable. The decision about technology should be taken after the UJM process.

The marketing and communication strategy. Understanding your audience, users, and customers are essential.

There is more to set with the client so here is the extended briefing routine that we are implementing in the projects that we develop. The first column contains all the topics that we usually cover in our briefing.

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OK, the Briefing is done. Now it's time to talk about the User Personas!
Continue to Part 2
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