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  • Writer's pictureKat Fenton

Mapping User Journeys

A common strategy used in way finding design that I didn’t know about.

Mapped user journeys for way finding are a UX technique I’m not really familiar with and needed a little help getting up to speed on. My coworker was kind enough to show me a good technique for breaking down a user’s path, identifying pain points, and ultimately putting myself in their shoes. It’s basically what I feel is a more effective user persona.

The set up is pretty simple. Take a look at your audience, if you have several, no worries, make several user journeys. Choose a name and give that name a title. For example, Employee Carl. Now it’s time to give Carl a purpose. What’s he doing with his day? Why? Where does he need to go? These are the kinds of questions to ask yourself as you go through this exercise. For my example, Carl is going to visit an old friend from college who just got a job with Carl’s company.

Carl is ready to begin his journey! Put yourself in his shoes and walk through a moment in his day. In this case, it’s going to find his friend. Before I address his feelings, opportunities, or signage, I type out every step. Ask yourself where is he getting stuck? How would this make me feel? And from there begin to map out Carl’s emotions as he walks through this path. Take a moment to stop here and there and put his thoughts into the thought boxes.

Once you’ve completed his journey, emotional and physical, identify pain points and opportunities to solve or even prevent bad experiences. I say prevent because you don’t have to focus on where his emotional path dips into the red. You can be proactive in your solutions by finding ways to prevent bad experiences, rather than re-actively solving for the problem that is currently there. I also use these opportunities to categorize my signage based off the 4 types in way finding: Identification, Direction, Information, and Regulatory.

Ta-da! You’ve mapped a user experience for way finding! I recommend you do this for several more people. The bigger the area you are surveying for way finding, the more user paths you are likely to have so don’t hesitate to make as many as you need. All in all, for this particular project I created around 10 user experience maps with an additional 4 user paths with a focus on pain points, 14 journeys in total and I may need more as we move into addressing the differences between office space and manufacturing space.

You should also take some time either before or after creating these maps to interview some of your actual users. Ask them how they felt when they first started using the space, how often they get lost, which areas give them the most troubles, which areas they like best, and so on. It will not only solidify your strategy but it also involves your users in the design process. It gives them pride at the end of the project to know that they were able to influence the look and feel of the area around them.

Thanks for reading! You can see the article and follow me on Medium. You can also share how you do user journeys and experience maps. I love to see how other designers are implementing strategies like this to enhance their designs.


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