Irina Linnik - Digital Specialist February 21st, 2022

How to Create a User Journey That Users Will Actually Follow

Have you ever wondered why users do not complete certain actions on your website or why you don’t see enough conversions? The reason might be a need for a website redesign - or a poorly designed user journey.

A user journey maps out all steps that a user takes when interacting with your software product. Its ultimate goal is to naturally lead the user towards completing a certain goal and this is why the user journey design is so important. Unfortunately, many business owners do not take it seriously enough which results in low conversions and low user engagement. So how do you craft an engaging and intuitive user journey? This article aims to shed light on the issue.

What exactly is a user journey and why does it matter so much?

As already stated, a user journey is a path that a user takes when interacting with a product in order to reach a specific goal. This process starts from the first point of interaction (i.e. launching an app) and includes all actions that a user performs (browsing, interacting, selecting categories, etc.) until the goal is complete.

Think of a user journey as a map that shows how exactly a user behaves when interacting with a product. Of course, you can never predict one’s behavior with 100% accuracy but by studying your target audience, you can get a pretty solid understanding of what your users want and how they expect to achieve it.

So why is user journey design so important? Here are the core reasons:

  • A good user journey boosts user experience: if a product has intuitive navigation and does not cause any confusion, users will most likely become more interested and engaged. This, in turn, promotes conversions as they’ll be more motivated to complete them.
  • A detailed user journey uncovers any blind spots: it may reveal some weak areas in your app’s design that you have not noticed before.
  • A user journey helps make the app’s design more interactive: for example, by knowing the main touchpoints, you can adjust the design correspondingly.

The main components of a user journey

One of the biggest misconceptions that one can make about a user journey is that it consists of user actions only. This misconception, in turn, leads to poorly designed user journeys that users do not wish to follow.

The first step in creating an intuitive and user-friendly user journey is listing down and understanding its main components. They are:

  • Your buying persona or your target audience: who is the person that you target?
  • User interaction: are you mapping out a real or an anticipated interaction?
  • Journey stages: what steps/stages does a user go through until the goal is reached?
  • Emotions and thoughts: what emotions does a user feel at each stage of the journey?
  • Touchpoints: what are the main points of interaction between a user and a product?

Yes, all these things need to be considered when creating a detailed and efficient user journey. Now, let’s dissect the process step by step.

The process of creating a user journey

When you approach a user journey design without a thorough plan, chances are high the user journey will make users stumble on their way. Hence, it is vital to follow the steps that we listed below to make sure you covered all aspects of the user journey creation.

Set your primary goal

The first thing that you need to think about is the goal that you want to achieve. It may be a bigger number of conversions, better user engagement, or an increased number of product downloads. Whatever your goal is, it will be your base for outlining a user journey and you will be building the touchpoints around this goal.

Define your target audience

The next step to take is to actually define who your audience is. Here is where you might face some hidden rocks.

The thing is, you might be having several target audiences and that’s completely fine. Note though, that every target group will need its own unique user journey so make sure to invest time and resources into designing them.

Once you determine whether you want to build a user journey for one or several user groups, you’ll need to create a comprehensive profile of your perfect user. We highly recommend not to rely on your intuition solely and to question real users instead. In this way, you’ll get a solid understanding of their online behavior, their most acute needs, things that motivate them to continue the interaction, and things that set them off. 

Define user goals, expectations, and pain points

After you understand who your target users are, it’s time to define what they want from your product, what they expect from it, and what problem the product can help them solve. You will use these findings as a base to make the journey from point A to point B as smooth as possible while also paying attention to users’ emotions during the process. This leads us to the next point.

Identify users’ emotions 

Throughout the interaction with your product, users feel a range of emotions, from excitement to frustration. Your task here is to identify (and partially predict), what kind of emotion each step of the user journey evokes. 

For example, if your current user journey is not user-friendly and causes confusion, it will leave users frustrated and even angry, thus decreasing their motivation to complete a conversion. By knowing what emotions the stages of a user journey cause, you will be able to adjust these stages and improve the overall experience.

Identify touchpoints

Touchpoints are the points of interaction between a user and your product. Examples include:

  • Product demos
  • ustomer support
  • Feedback
  • Onboarding process
  • Loyalty program

As you see, in all these examples a user somehow interacts with your business and gets something in return. Touchpoints play a major role in leading a user towards completing a conversion, so you need to list down all touchpoints in your user journey and analyze how users actually interact with them. Do they interact with all touchpoints and if not, then what might be the reason? 

Identify the steps that a user takes

When users interact with your product, they perform a sequence of certain tasks, for example: 

  • Find (they come across your product for the first time)
  • Explore (users browse your product and check the available features)
  • Use (they make a decision and proceed to make a conversion)
  • Follow-up (users leave their feedback on the product).

This is a very simplistic outline of a possible list of user actions but it gives a good idea about the way a user starts and finishes using the product. By knowing these actions, you can correlate them with the following points:

  • Doing: what does a user do during each step, i.e. during the “find” stage?
  • Thinking: what does a user think about? It may be “I need to order lunch from the nearest restaurant”, meaning, you need to analyze what kind of an objective a user sets.
  • Feeling: this directly relates to the emotions that we talked about earlier.
  • Touchpoints: identify touchpoints that are available to a user at a certain step, i.e. during the “explore” stage.
  • Opportunities: what kind of opportunities does your product offer to the current user needs? I.e., during the “explore” stage, how can your UI convince the user to proceed?

This may sound overwhelming and it’s not obligatory to perform such deep analysis but it will undoubtedly help you better understand your target audience and how to fulfill their needs in the most effective manner.

Tips to enhance your user journey

To sum up, here are several tips that can help you improve your current or future user journey and ensure users complete it without skipping any steps:

  • Define and outline all possible obstacles that prevent users from completing a journey and/or interacting with touchpoints;
  • Define KPIs to achieve: a certain percentage of conversions or a certain number of sales;
  • Take the journey yourself and see whether it’s as smooth as you think and whether the website design supports it;
  • Choose the user journey map format that suits your company the best.

And don’t forget to constantly test your ideas with real users and collect their feedback. Last but not least: remember that a user journey is not a constant but rather something that is changing so you’ll need to review it from time to time, especially as your product grows and evolves.

Irina Linnik - Digital Specialist

Irina Linnik is a tech writer at SoftTeco, a company that designs custom software products for enterprise clients. With over 8 years of experience in copywriting, Irina always strives to create a compelling copy that informs the readers about the latest technological trends in an engaging and clear manner.

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