User journey

Short Answer:

A user journey is a path a user may take to reach their goal when using a particular product or service. User journeys are used in designing a service to identify ways to enable the user to achieve their goal as quickly and easily as possible.

Long Answer:

User journeys are the step by step journey that a user takes to reach their goal. In a website, for example, 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.

Although a website is used as an example above, user journeys can be used to map journeys through any system. As long as the users of the system have been identified and their needs and goals in using the service are understood. The steps to reach their goal and satisfy their need is a user journey. Each service user will have a goal they are trying to reach, whether it is finding a particular ward in a hospital to visit their friend, 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.

Each user goal can be mapped out using the current service to identify any flaws or frustrations in the service. This is often referred to as user journey mapping or customer journey mapping. Once an understanding of the service is fully illustrated, service designers will set out their recommended user journey. One which is as simple and easy as possible for service users to reach their goals. This will form the basis of the new service.

Advantages

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 development 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 service should work, what content and functionality are required to meet the user needs, and what aspects of the service must be in place to support the journey.

Developing a service around the real user journeys provides confidence that the final solution will cater to the needs of real people.

Disadvantages

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.

Conclusion

User journeys are critical in the design of new services 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 a service designers to help balance the business goals with the user goals, the user journeys are invaluable in creating a successful project design.

Reference: http://www.experiencesolutions.co.uk/questions/what_are_user_journeys.php

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