This is a guest post by Ray Slater Berry, a freelance writer for Chameleon with over nine years of content marketing and social media experience. He specializes in product tech, travel, and SaaS. Ray is also a published fiction writer, with his first novel titled Golden Boy.
The above statement was made by the global business powerhouse, IBM. The company explains that it’s far more economical to consider user needs early in the design process than to try and solve them later. Based on the returns given in the above quote, we can calculate an ROI of 9,900%.
And considering the user needs early is exactly what a user experience (UX) map does, meaning creating an effective UX map has the potential to bridge the gap between business success and failure.
By understanding your user’s needs in the early stages of a design process, you’re more likely to consistently meet those needs, meaning a happy customer and reduced churn.
This is why we at Process Street have produced this article, your practical guide to user experience mapping.
Welcome and gather around the user experience campfire. Grab a marshmallow on a stick, a cup of something hot, and relax. Today you’ll learn the ins of outs of user experience maps and how you can create one in the leanest way possible.
Click on the relevant subheader below to jump to your section of choice. Alternatively, scroll down to read all we have to say regarding user experience mapping.
- What are user experience maps?
- The benefits of UX mapping
- How do you create a UX map?
- Examples of user experience maps
What are user experience maps?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s ensure we’re on the same page – or map in this case.
A user experience (UX) map, also known as a customer experience map, is a documented journey of someone’s interactions with your business throughout their user life-span.
A UX map can be visualized in different ways depending on your resources and your reason for mapping the user’s experience. However, despite variations, the underlying theme of UX mapping is this: We’re not solely mapping a customer’s sales journey, or onboarding, we’re mapping an entire process.
User experience mapping vs. customer journey mapping
Common misconceptions confuse the terms UX map with customer journey map.
Customer journey mapping is a lot different from a UX map, and here’s why.
They’re (usually) three stages to a customer journey:
- Acquisition: Brand awareness, retargeting, organic marketing – any tactic you use to build a product and brand awareness.
- Conversion: Sales reps, email journeys, product demos, promotions, freemium plans, any tactic you use to convert an interested buyer into an active user.
- Retention: Onboarding, customer success, new features, referral plans, any tactic you use to retain a customer and become fully customer-centric.
Mapping this customer journey requires you to internally analyze your business efforts, and determine what your business is putting out there.
Right, next imagine we line up these three segments of the customer journey alongside each other, and we take a giant piece of tracing paper and lay it over the top. On that tracing paper, we map out every experience that happens as the user travels across those three segments. This is UX mapping.
A customer journey is a backboard to your UX map. The two support each other but are separate. Depending on what you’re looking for, you may plot and track more experiences within one customer journey segment than others, but this varies case by case.
The benefits of UX mapping
UX mapping brings many benefits across an organization, which differ dependent on the department in question.
Benefits for product teams include:
- Improved retention metrics;
- Informed product upgrades and new features;
- Identification of the aha moments;
- Increases the Net Promoter Score (NPS);
- Increases the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
Benefits for marketing teams include:
- Increases product qualified leads (PQLs);
- Promotes business-customer conversations;
- Increases active users;
- Highlights market opportunities;
- Supports product messaging.
Benefits for UX teams include:
- Identifies user pain points;
- Showcases navigation opportunities;
- Conveys user sentiment;
- Informs product upgrades.
The bottom line?
The data you gain from accurately mapping the user experience is invaluable to your business. If distributed well, your user experience map data will play a huge part in increasing your Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR).
How do you create a UX map?
Now you’ve everything you need to push forward with your user experience mapping project, it’s time to create this mystical beast and put it to work.
Come and sit a little closer; I’m about to share our secrets.
Step 1: Nail down your goals
You need to ask yourself: Why are you here? Because we both know it’s not for the free marshmallows. What brought you to this article? To this paragraph? What pain point does your business have that you’re trying to solve with a UX map?
Set objectives and goals for your UX map – I recommend setting three at the most. Maybe you’re trying to understand a ghastly churn rate you can’t beat. Maybe you want to provide better MQLs to your sales team? Whatever the reason, identify your goals and let them drive every other step in this process.
Step 2: Define your personas
A UX map is a behavioral blueprint for your customers. However, it’s impossible that every customer has the same needs, expectations, wants, and pain points. You’ll need to break down your customer types into user personas.
The idea is that each persona will have a different route to – and with – your product. Your user experience map results will differ from persona to persona and provide various benefits for other business areas.
Pro tip: Give your personas catchy names. It will help all teams identify with them and recall who they are when they’re going over user experience data. For instance:
Sally → Solution-based Sally
Barb → No budget Barb
Tyrone → Likes-to-moan Tyrone
Step 3: Identify user goals & touchpoints within the customer journey
This is where things heat up. Remember the three stages of the customer journey we spoke about earlier? Lay those out again: Acquisition, Conversion, Retention.
Next, rather than looking at your business goals and processes, we need to invert our viewpoint to that of the customer’s.
We need to plot the customer (persona) goals that occur throughout each of these stages and the experiences they encounter on the way to reaching their goals. Below we’ve laid out universal user goals a customer will have throughout their journey with you and some potential touchpoints they can have in pursuit of those goals.
Acquisition-based customer goals:
- Discover – Potential touchpoints are: Social media, organic SEO, partner campaigns, paid ads.
- Evaluate – Potential touchpoints are: Pricing page, freemium plan, product tour, reviews.
- Compare – Potential touchpoints are: Google keyword searches, competitor sites, webinars.
Conversion-based customer goals:
- Purchase – Potential touchpoints are: Sales conversions, one-to-one demos, email.
- Adopt – Potential touchpoints are: Onboarding tours, email journeys, customer service.
Retention-based customer goals:
- Use – Potential touchpoints are: App or product interactions, knowledge base, customer service & success.
- Succeed – Potential touchpoints are: In-product “aha” moments, ROI, customer success conversations.
- Share – Potential touchpoints are: Referral bonus pages, social media share.
Each of these goals will result in different engagements depending on your product and the personas you’re mapping. It’s up to you to fill in the blanks. What experiences do your users encounter throughout each of these steps?
Are your users experiencing negative situations? If they are then why, and how can you fix that?
Remember: These are not always obvious experiences that your business puts out there. Get into the customer’s shoes and figure out what they’re going through within their environment, as shall be discussed later in this article.
Step 4: Use UX research tools and methods to map pain points
You’ll need a few powerful SaaS tools in your toolkit to do this research justice, especially if you want to understand the flow from the user’s perspective.
5 powerful UX software tools you should use to create your UX maps
A user experience is about how a user interacts with and experiences a particular product, system, or service, and UX software supports these interactions to ensure they are positive.
Toolkit: Checklist launchers, micro surveys, tooltips, and tours.
Methods: We’re specifically looking at utilizing in-app micro surveys to get accurate customer feedback on specific stages of the customer experience map. The best micro survey completion rate is 92%, with 80% of those users willing to complete another. You should garner plenty of feedback to understand product pain points.
Toolkit: Heatmaps, incoming feedback, and recordings.
Methods: Understand how users interact with your website using heatmaps and screen recordings. You’ll be able to identify pain points and different routes people are taking before they reach a sign-up.
3. Sprout social
Toolkit: Social media management, audience listening.
Methods: Every business needs a social media presence. It’s essential for organic growth, building awareness, and getting new visitors to your site. However, what we love about Sprout is the Audience listening tool. You’ll be able to analyze the general sentiment around your business, your hashtags and keywords, as well as how that sentiment lines up alongside your competition.
4. Lucid chart
Toolkit: Collaborative charts.
Methods: Time to start mapping your user’s experiences. There’re a lot of mapping tools you can use, but our personal favorite – for its simplicity and shareability – is LucidChart. Lucidchart provides a visual workspace, combining diagramming, collaboration, and data visualization. It’s an intuitive, cloud-based solution, meaning everyone can work visually and collaborate in real-time.
5. Process Street
Toolkit: Process automation.
Methods: Process Street is a business process management software. With Process Street you can document any business process as a checklist. Wrap up your user experience map process with an organized workflow that ensures you never miss a trick when repeating it in the future. Launch the process and let the tool notify people when it’s their turn to act.
Examples of user experience maps
LucidChart is an excellent tool for those who don’t have the resources to create more visual or on-brand user experience maps. But, for those of you that do have the resources, check out some examples of UX maps below to get you inspired.
Example #1: Booking flow
This experience map example from Adobe is clean, clear, and concise. They have introduced ideas for improvements alongside each touchpoint and experience, merging the steps into one visual.
We give it 7/10.
Example #2: Ecommerce purchase
We’re big fans of the color scheme used by Bright Vessel in this experience map. It’s a little more detailed than our first example and clarifies what departments are responsible for fixing pain points within the user journey.
We give it 8/10.
Example #3: SaaS purchase
This is a user experience map example if we ever saw one. Smaply, who specializes in visualizing your customer’s experiences, has put together this epic customer journey for a persona called Sam. It’s detailed, memorable, visual, and useful.
We give it 10/10 (go team, Smaply!)
User experience map done, what next?
We arrive at the final chapter of our story.
Take another marshmallow; you deserve it.
At this moment, you understand your personas, and I bet bossed a number of user experience maps. You know your personas’ wants, needs, touchpoints, and experiences throughout their journey to and with your product. You know your persona pain points. What next? How can you wrap it all up?
Implement positive change 👍
Implement those changes! You’ve done all the heavy lifting, but it’s not over yet. Set up projects with respective teams to implement the necessary changes that positively benefit your users and their experiences with you.
Review and revisit 🔍
Lastly, document your changes as a process.
In doing, your processes can be distributed throughout your team ensuring they follow the correct practice to the T.
Use Process Street to document best practices that’ll benefit your user’s experience with your brand/service.
For more information on how to document processes and improve UX using Process Street, watch the below video.
Add features to your documented processes, such as:
- Stop Tasks 🛑 to ensure your documented processes run in the correct order, and no important task is missed. Missing a single task could define the difference between a good and a bad user experience.
- Dynamic Due Dates ⏰ allowing you to set due dates on specific tasks, ensuring no deadline is missed. Maybe you need to send a product demo in good time. Or you may need to follow up with a given user. You don’t want to keep your users waiting. Use our dynamic due dates feature to notify yourself of tasks due.
- Conditional Logic 🧠 to create dynamic systems that cater to your user’s specific needs each time they are run. The needs of one user will differ from the needs of another, create processes with an appropriate level of flexibility.
- Role Assignments 👥 to ease task delegation within your team, assign a given UX team member to the relevant task for them to be notified of their job beforehand, streamlining teamwork.
- Approvals ✅ allowing decision-makers to give the go-ahead (or rejection) on important system items. Also, the necessary comments can be provided.
- Webhooks 🎣 allow you to send automated messages or information from your documented processes directly to other apps. A great feature keeping your other tools notified about the status of checklists and tasks in Process Street.
- Task Assignments 👤 to assign users and groups to individual tasks in your documented processes, making it easy to see who is responsible for what.
- Embed Widget 🌐 allowing you to view and interact with other apps without leaving your documented process in Process Street.
- + more! 🚀
It’s important to note that things change – persona circumstances, real-life situations, popular culture, economies, competition, and technology. User experience mapping is a case of constant optimization.
By documenting your processes in Process Street, you can update the process with a click of a button, and rest knowing your entire team will be working from the updated operation from then on.
Beat churn, increase retention, and grow your customer lifetime value with UX mapping
Ladies and gentlemen, we arrive at the closing paragraph to this epic story on user experience maps. As the digital fire crackles down, take some time to process it all.
User experience maps are no easy feat. Yet, hopefully, this article has proven the value to you, your team, and your business. Like leading protagonists in a romance, give a reason for your customers to fall in love and stay in love with you. You’ll beat churn, increase retention, and work towards a customer lifetime value that’s as sweet as that last marshmallow.
And they all lived happily ever after.
How do you create user experience maps for your business? How have UX maps benefited your business and line of work? We’d love to hear from you, please comment below.