How to get the most out of your journey maps

Building a journey map

Customer or user journey maps are valuable tools for demonstrating the paths that employees, customers, and stakeholders may follow as they engage with a product or service. Investing in journey maps that are easy to read and full of valuable information will not only aid in understanding the weaknesses and gaps of your product or service, but will also act as a long-lasting tool to better define the future of your product or service and identify opportunities to improve.

Begin by talking to real people

While you may already feel you know your customers fairly well, it’s crucial to continue forming a concrete understanding of their habits, individuality and behaviour. Expand on your existing knowledge, but forfeit preconceptions based off of personal assumptions when it comes to scoping journey maps. In order to accomplish this, there are several research methodologies appropriate for further understanding your users. We recommend in-depth user interviews, usability testing, and ethnographic studies in order to get the most out of your participants.

Align your team with consistent goals and values

A hurdle many of our stakeholders face when creating journey maps is the misalignment of team expectations and values. While one individual may want to flesh out the details of certain known touch-points, another may hope to shine a light on interactions that were previously unknown. Both approaches are valid, but the key is to align on these goals and values prior to beginning the research and journey mapping exercises. When discussing shared goals, ask yourself and your team some of the following questions.

  • What is the value of this?
  • What do we want to know?
  • Are journey maps the right tool for this problem?
  • How much is too much data, (ie. When does the amount of data become distracting)?

Consider using an alignment tool or method that you can fall back on throughout the research process. We love this one by Team Canvas

Or, you can start with a template we’ve created.

Allow time for flexibility and iteration

Don’t be afraid to make edits to your strategy and goals throughout the journey mapping process. The research points discovered throughout the study may present new findings that you had not considered previously. While your journey map captures the path of your product or service at a specific time and place, allowing for flexibility and iteration will help you envision how your product will evolve over time. When the first journey map is “finalized”, have your team ask themselves how viewing this artefact changes their expectations for the future of your product or service.

Share your journey maps and findings

Finally, display your journey maps within your organization and be sure to share them with your team once they’re finished. Consider printing them out in large format or having them readily available digitally so they can be referred to in meetings. Displaying this research artefact in your office will allow for discussions regarding the journey to develop organically. This will encourage your team to keep real people and their journeys in mind when building out new initiatives or improving upon existing ones.

Download the Service Design Heuristics Guide