Journey mapping at stc17

This week I’m attending STC Summit 2017, the annual conference of the Society for Technical Communication. These are my notes from one of the sessions at the conference. All credit goes to the presenter, and any mistakes are mine.

Michelle Gardner‘s session was titled, “Walk in Your Customer’s Shoes: Learn the Art of Journey Mapping”. She showed us how to create a journey map, which helps us determine the needs and problems of our customers.

A journey map is a story told from a user’s perspective about all the steps they take to get something done.

What we need to do:

  • Know the users and their goals.
  • Write about the action they need to take
  • Know what the user wants at each stage
  • Satisfy the user’s need.
  • Remove obstacles from their path.

The user’s perspective

Michelle took us through a group of fictional characters who are visiting a coffee shop, to see if they’re represented by the same persona. The aim was to delve into particular points of view, when developing a persona. Make sure you have facts rather than assumptions. If possible, observe users using your product. Otherwise, talk to people who know the customers.

Each journey map must have one persona, and each persona must have a journey map told from their point of view.

The actions a user takes

The user goes through multiple steps in the task they need to complete. For example, at a coffee shop the steps may be: view their choices (e.g. via a menu), place the order, pay, etc. Michelle used the example of a menu to point out that we should not be technology-specific at this point – the user may see their options on something other than a menu.

Considerations for each action: For each stage, we should know the actions the user takes, their thoughts and feelings, the timeframe, the user’s expectations or goals for that stage/timeframe, the channel/medium/location, your assumptions, and moments of truth. The last item means those interactions with your product where the user perceives quality or lack of quality.

If possible, you should also know the other characters involved, whether the step is necessary (maybe it’s only required for some personas), where the user came from and where they’re going next.

The pattern of a user journey

As a [persona] I want to [intent] so that [goal or need].

During the session, we did an interactive exercise at this point, where we mapped the user journey of a sample persona: Lorelei Gilmore. We worked on a matrix, with the actions listed across the top, and the list of considerations (thoughts and feelings, timeframe, etc) listed vertically. We filled in the matrix with values that we thought might apply to Lorelei as she went through the actions required to order a coffee.

This was an interesting exercise, even though the use case was trivial (ordering coffee). It gave us insight into how many choices and options there are in a simple action. We also explored ways of categorising the different aspects of the use case.

Question from the floor: How long does the process of creating a journey map take and how many people would you expect to be involved? Answer: The first journey map would take at least a week. Involve the entire product team.

You need to do your journey mapping at the very beginning of your development process – in the design stage.

Observation from the floor: This seems more of a process for the product management, rather than a tech writer.

Question from the floor: How do you reconcile different personas with the same goal? Answer: Do a journey map for each persona, and analyse the stages where they’re the same or different.

Question from the floor: Is there ever a point in a journey map where you realise this journey map is not relevant? Answer: This would indicate that you’ve created a persona that isn’t relevant. You need to know your customers really well, and base your persona designs on the customers that matter.

How to apply a journey map to your product and docs

Michelle suggested some tools for journey mapping, such as Excel, PowerPoint, or Post-it notes on a wall. There are also professional tools available.

Design the product based on what you’ve learned. For example, add/remove features, and provide alternative options in the user interface.

In the documentation: Provide targeted content for each persona. Organise the content based on the journey. You can do journey mapping entirely for the docs, and then suggest to the product team that they apply it to the product too.

Thanks Michelle, this was a fun and enlightening session.

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 9 May 2017, in STC, technical writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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