Magdalena Jackiewicz
Editorial Expert

How to use customer journeys and user flows to maximize UX?

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The UX workshop that typically launches the product design process focuses on creating a customer journey that allows users to achieve their goals. This technique involves working with user stories, scenarios and flows that are then used to build an effective customer journey map.

In this article, we explain how to apply these tools to maximize the UX design. You will find a brief description of the methodology and some general guidelines. If, after reading, you still have questions or doubts about the process, be advised that we could conduct these workshops for you. Contact me directly at magda@rst.software to schedule a call to discuss your case.

Let’s begin with user stories, scenarios and flows.

User stories, scenarios and flows

The purpose of creating user stories, scenarios and flows is to examine how users could potentially move through a tool in order to achieve specific goals. User stories focus on specific functionalities, scenarios envision the circumstances in which a persona would use these features, and flows look at the exact interaction paths within a tool. Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements. User story is a tool used in Agile software development that describes a software feature from an end-user perspective. The user story describes the type of user, what they want and why. It is a very high-level definition of a requirement, containing just enough information so that the developers can produce a reasonable estimate of the effort to implement it.

User story

User story is a tool used in Agile software development that describes a software feature from an end-user perspective. The user story describes the type of user, what they want and why. It is a very high-level definition of a requirement, containing just enough information so that the developers can produce a reasonable estimate of the effort to implement it.

A user story is a short description of a single business functionality. Defining user stories is important from the developers’ perspective - a single story should be completed in up to three days. As such, they help to break down the product functionalities into smaller features that are easier to manage once development begins.

Let’s imagine your new application features taking a photo with a mobile phone. User stories created around this feature could include adding filters, zooming in and out, recording a video.An example user story could be the following: As a lover of nature photography, I want to be able to zoom in with high resolution, so that I could capture the details of the beautiful flowers.

Why are user stories important?

  • User stories help the entire team understand and agree on a goal of the tool. The goals are actions that the company wants their target audience to perform. If the company doesn't understand which processes lead to these main actions, the product won't work properly.
  • They help to estimate the development costs of relevant product features.
  • They also promote collaboration and increase transparency of the project.

User stories methodology

  • A good user story is written from the user’s perspective. Stick to the format: As a user (role), I want to (do what), so that I could (benefit).
  • Begin by writing down all the possible user stories, including those that are important from the perspective of every stakeholder. Later, you will prioritize them.
  • User stories can be written down on index cards or virtual boards. It's good to write down all the possible stories.
  • Once you complete creating the user stories, the team should engage in prioritizing them to understand which are indispensable for the product release, which could be developed at a later stage, or which ones could potentially be dropped altogether.

User scenario

User scenario describes how a user could interact with a website or software application. In the narrative, we specify a task and describe how a user could accomplish it in the new solution. This hypothetical plot describes the interaction process with the design and focuses on understanding their motivation.

Scenario writing allows you to imagine an ideal future where your users can get their work done without the difficulties they experience today. Here’s a well-written user scenario example offered by the Interaction Design Foundation:

“Jeremy, 52, a senior manager for a medical supplies company, needs constantly updated information on purchasing-related issues while he travels between work and hospital sites, so he can use/allocate resources optimally. He’s highly skilled, organized and diligent. However, with recent layoffs he now struggles to manage his workload and is too drained to enjoy his career. He strains to handle tasks which his former assistant previously performed, stay current with issues and investigate supply-chain problems, while he tries to find alternatives that would be more economical in the financial climate.He wants something convenient like an app to take him straight to only the most relevant updates and industry news, including current information feeds about share prices, tariffs on foreign suppliers, budget decisions in local hospitals and innovations in the medical devices he handles (mostly lung and cardiovascular products). Instead of continuing to liaise with three other managers and spending an hour generating one end-of-day report through the company intranet, he’d love to have all the information he needs securely on his smartphone and be able to easily send real-time screenshots for junior staff to action and file and corporate heads to examine and advise him about.”

Why are user scenarios important?

  • A good user scenario identifies the context of use and helps to tailor the experience to the user's motivations and needs, walking us through the path step by step.
  • It may validate the design or reveal the areas that had been overlooked.
  • They help designers understand what motivates users when they interact with a design.

User scenario methodology

  • Begin by providing the context: who is the user, what are their goals, when and where do they want to achieve those goals and why, in relation to the tool you are building.
  • Skip the technical details, so that all stakeholders can understand the scenario easily.
  • Stay focused on the bigger picture, but stick to the point: explain what led them to interact with the tool, how they interact with it and whether they need something to be able to interact with it.
  • Focus the attention on the user.

User flow

User flow is the exact path a persona has to go through in an app or a website to complete a task that generates an outcome. The flow encompasses all the steps a user must take from their entry point all the way to the result. Product teams create them to predict and demonstrate the possible paths of interaction with the product. It’s an attempt to visualize the interaction process.

user-flow-example
simple-user-flow-example

Why is a user flow important?

  • It’s the best and fastest way to visualize the process of completing a task or transactions.
  • Ensure important steps in the process aren’t missed.
  • They paint the full picture: show all the possible paths a user might take to complete a task with the new tool, in an easy-to-grasp way.
  • They help improve communication across the product team.

User flow methodology

  • Begin by determining the objectives of the user and your objectives.
  • Determine how users could find your tool and create an outline of the path that brings them to the result.
  • Determine the steps required on this path and the information users may need as they navigate the website. Label the elements of the flow.
  • Map out the entire flow by linking the elements.

This part of the workshop is about writing down the points and mapping the results, so pen and paper could easily work here. Otherwise, we use tools like StoriesOnBoard, Mural, InVision Freehand, Milanote or mind mapping software like XMind.

Customer journey map

Customer journey maps help visualize the complete process required to accomplish the main product goal. The map considers the ways in which a customer discovers a company and enters their website or application to obtain a specific result. It includes the time a user takes to consider their options, and post purchase aspects, such as onboarding. While working on the map, the product team focuses on addressing the customer’s needs and pain points, and finding the ways to improve the process.

Why is customer journey mapping important?

  • The map pinpoints specific elements in the customer journey that cause pain or delight, thus allowing to rectify the weak points in the process.
  • Offers a shared, organization-wide understanding of the customer journey, allowing businesses to assign ownership of key touchpoints to specific departments.
  • It allows product teams to reconsider the specific stages of the journey from the technical perspective and make improvements wherever necessary.

Customer journey map methodology

customer-journey-example
  • The map is tied to a specific product or service. It is split into five lanes: actions, touchpoints, emotions, pain points and possible solutions. They reflect the user’s perspective, including their mindset, thoughts, and emotions, leaving out most of the process elements.
  • Begin mapping the customer journey by compiling a series of user goals and actions into a timeline.
  • Next, assign user thoughts and emotions to every stage of the journey in order to create a narrative.
  • Whenever a user experiences negative emotions, identify the reasons and consider what improvements can be made to eliminate them. Focus on increasing the client’s satisfaction.
  • Finally, that narrative is condensed into a visualization used to communicate insights that will inform design processes.
  • Note that every persona will have their proper user map.

Using customer journey maps to maximize UX

I hope that this article gave you an idea about the importance of customer journey mapping in the product design process and that you will be able to work on it by yourself. If you’re still having doubts about the process, you can contact us directly at offer@rst.software and we’ll schedule a call to discuss your case and see whether we can help.

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