What are User Journeys and How Can They Improve Your SaaS Platform?
A user journey visually maps a persona’s experience with a digital product, relating to a specific goal. The purpose of the document is to uncover challenges and opportunities for optimizing the persona’s experience. Even for a relatively simple website, a user journey can involve a complex series of expectations, decisions, and actions. User journeys help break these down in a way that is easy for your team to understand. Most importantly, user journeys turn what at first seem like overwhelming user experience challenges into palatable insights that are far more likely to lead to action.
What Information is Included in a User Journey?
User journeys are the movie script with the persona being the main character. What are personas? A persona is a proxy for a group of users. It’s a one-page document that provides a consensus for your team that describes the behaviors, motivations, and goals for different types of users. These should be created prior to developing user journeys. I’ve written about how to create them here.
User journeys can describe the persona’s current experience with a digital product or an ideal experience that the team intends to create. They can map out a part of the experience or provide an overview of the entire experience, which may include different touchpoints.
A user journey includes:
- Persona name
- The goal that persona is trying to achieve
- Different stages of interaction with the digital product, including online/offline touchpoints
- Persona’s perspective throughout the journey
- Potential user experience roadblocks
- Insights/recommendations for optimizing the user journey
How Do Your Create User Journeys?
User journeys, like personas, are created as a result of qualitative research—typically ethnographic research or one-on-one user interviews. During user research, it’s critical to uncover the challenges that the persona faces (for example, presenting options to their boss or board of directors), their mindset, their reservations, and what ultimately drives a final decision. For most digital products, you’ll also examine what happens and what can be optimized post-experience. This can be done through observation as well as carefully-crafted interview questions.
After reviewing the results from the research, have your team reflect on:
- How is this persona feeling throughout this process?
- What challenges or obstacles is this persona facing?
- What outside factors affect the experience?
- What objections would this persona have in purchasing or using our product?
- How does this persona make decisions? What drives a final decision?
- Where does our digital product or business get in the way of the user?
- What would help this persona?
- When this persona finishes using our product, how do we want them to feel?
How Do User Journeys Help Your SaaS Platform?
- User journeys provide a shared vision for an optimal user experience. They break up complex interactions in easy-to-digest pieces presented visually. When your whole team understands the path forward, it’s far easier to take steps to create or improve the digital product.
- User journeys provide a holistic view—including potential business problems. Sometimes user experience issues are deep-rooted business issues. During the process of creating user journeys, it’s common to hear some iteration of “we do it that way because that’s how we’ve always done it.” User journeys help provide a business case, backed by research, for igniting change in the business itself.
- User journeys inform user experience metrics. UX researchers and designers know that investing in UX is integral to the success of the company. To get other stakeholders on board, we encourage our clients to set UX goals and metrics and ensure they are measuring progress on an ongoing basis. The insights from journey mapping will inform these goals/metrics.
Interested in learning how user journeys can help your digital product? Read our case studies to learn how to incorporate user journeys into your design and development process for an optimal user experience. Have a question? Send us a note.