Experience Map is an important design tool to understand our product/service interactions from users’ point of view. One experience map is basically a visual representation that illustrate users’ flow (within a product or service) their needs, wants, expectations and the overall experience for a particular goal.
Besides Experience Maps, different names are used to refer to similar representations, some of them are: Customer Journey, User Journey and some time Blueprint or Service Ecology, although there are some nuances in the latter two, I prefer to include them in the group of the multidimensional maps.
If you search the internet you will see that there are many different examples of experience map, with some common elements between them. After reviewing many of them, investigate the existing methodology and design one for the company I work for, I have reached the conclusion that there are some design patterns, more or less clear, here I will share with you some insights about them. Check my post DIY Experience Maps were I explain how to make an Experience Map from scratch based on the layout I’m using at work .
The differences and similarities between them can be summarized in three aspects:
- Graphic visualization of the information. What I call here layout.
- Content: Elements included in the experience map. Although most maps have similar elements, some designs vary in the focus they make on one content above others.
- Complexity. Simple or multidimensional experience maps.
Experience Maps basic layout
There are two main types of representation: The classic timeline (with horizontal or vertical reading) Where touchpoints are located over a path timeline organized from left to right (horizontal) or Top-bottom (Vertical). This is the one I normally use, basically because is easy to read for everyone. (E.g. well known Starbucks Experience Map)
And the wheel layout where interaction phases are more relevant than touch points, used mainly for reflecting a product or service overall experience. Interaction phases are the main structure. The Cons are the limited detail. Pros?: Usually are more simplified models, allowing greater scope of a system or service. (E.g. The Lego wheel, Telephone Service from MMR Strategy)
Choosing the right layout for your experience map is a key point. The success and clarity of your Experience Map will depend largely on choosing the right layout and graphic elements.
2. CONTENT AND ELEMENTS
- User needs /experience triggers.
- Experience phases.
- Mental status (E.g. Attention, Attitude, Motivation, Mood, etc.)
- User emotions, thoughts, feelings and reactions during experience.
- Interaction connection type
- User Activity / interaction (represented by touchpoints mainly)
- System actions (interaction from system point of view)
- Touchpoints: Interaction points; pain points; delight points.
- Persona and Scenario resume.
- System opportunities and service barriers.
- The path (journey sequence)
Some Experience Maps focus on user emotions, others on interaction phases and system actions. For Softonic I focus on user emotions and thoughts, merging both on balloon messages.
A simple Experience Map only reflects one possible path during one scenario. For example Customer Journey Map through Red & White grocery store or Journey Map from effective UI bellow.
while a complex Experience Map could encompass cross platform experiences or experiences occurring at different time sessions/scenarios as Kuudes.fi service design concept for Helsinki City Library or nForm example of a cross-chanel experience.
Also depending on how broadly before and after moments outside our system interaction are detailed or the detail degree of the different components will contribute to the resulting complexity.
Summarizing, a basic Experience Map just follow one path -one user, one goal, one scenario and one path- even when you know the system allows multiple path variations. Add multiples reading dimensions, or reflecting different personas path on the same flow, adds complexity to the experience map.
How to choose one layout?
The right layout for your Experience Map will depend mainly on:
The amount and richness of the content resulting from the preparation phase – As number of touchpoints of opportunities, interaction types, devices involved, etc.-
And in what aspects do you want to put more emphasis: In the touchpoints? The system interaction features/functions? Emotional factors of the experience? etc.
Timeline is the most common layout, probably because it is also a traditional narrative model, easier to understand and follow for all types of people. Unless the complexity of your project requires it, I recommend you use this layout.
Including elements on the layout…
Finally, another important aspect to be consider is how to integrate different elements on the final design in order to achieve a harmonious, easy to read map.
Here you can see as I organize items in a timeline layout:
a- Path, touchpoints and connection type: Use arrows to ilustrate connection type between touchpoints (First from left to right is a controlled evaluation, between e and f we see a direct connection). I use letters to level each point and easily add reference on the bottom of the experience map.
b- System interaction and actions. I use icons to illustrate the action is taking place (functionality, content section, etc)
c- Include outside system stages. I use a different background to mark interactions that take place outside the system I’m modelling.
d- I use balloon messages to illustrate persona think-aloud about the experience through interaction. I also use red or green color when there is a negative or positive impact.
e- Finally I illustrate the different mental status and moods using a scale or emoticons depending on the focus I want to make.
Here you have my own design for a timeline Experience Map with all the elements:
Check my post DIY Experience Maps to find details and procedures about this layout.