May’s Membership Breakfast Club saw Al Barker, Sift Digital’s Head of User Experience cover Experience Mapping; talking through the what, why and how.
We were joined by senior leaders from the Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Faculty and Actuaries, Chatham House, Institute of Physics and British Medical Association among others, for a discussion about user-centricity and how experience mapping can assist in putting users at the heart of organisational strategy.
What are experience maps?
Experience mapping is a strategic process of communicating the complex circumstances and interactions that a user has with a given situation. The activity of ‘mapping’ builds knowledge and consensus across your organisation, and helps you to deliver a meaningful and useful experience to the people your organisation supports.
This joined up perspective of your users will ensure a consistent message across your channels and content, which delivers a tailored, relevant experience for your users.
Why should you create them?
Or, why be user-centred?
The ‘featuritis plague’ is something a lot of organisations can relate to. As more departments and teams get involved in the decision making process, more and more features (content, products, publications) get added. As useful features increase, so does user happiness - to a point (or, a peak). What organisations find difficult though, is stopping there. For example, multiple teams often want their feature - content, form, product - to have pride of place on the website. This is jeopardising the user experience in favour of internal decisions.
Prioritising user experience by researching what your audience are thinking will deliver an experience which will actually resonate with them. For example, international audiences could have nuances which are overlooked as you present them with the same information as a UK based audience. Detailed research into your various audiences would prevent this and ensure a relevant and engaging experience is delivered at all times.
How do you become user-centred?
1. Empathy: Understand their minds
Research your audience's: relationship and familiarity with your organisation, loyalty to the organisation and perception of it, culture, attitude and motivation. Assume nothing!
2. Behaviour: Understand their actions
Evaluate common device usage, the environment in which they’re accessing information on your organisation, their common tasks and interactions, what they’re influenced by and their abilities.
It’s less about building the thing right, more building the right thing.
It’s not enough to know what your users are thinking and doing however. This research should become central within your organisation with audience need put at the heart of the strategic direction of the business. To do this successfully you must bring together experience, capabilities and culture:
Experience: insight, creativity, technology, brand and content.
Capabilities: strategy, ability, resource and performance.
Culture: leadership, attitude, market and pace of change.
When this is aligned, user-centred design thinking will be centralised and you can then ensure every touchpoint with your members feels right - both to you and them. They’re getting the information and experience you want them to have, and the one they want!
How do you create experience maps?
Step 1: Research your audience
Using a blend of both quantitative and qualitative methods, research your audience by understanding their minds and actions as outlined above. Look at both online and offline touchpoint with your brand. Perhaps a large part of your current member experience requires a call centre to book exams, ask questions etc.. Look at this experience and get feedback from those on the ‘front line’ fielding these calls.
Step 2: Humanise the data
By humanising your data into audience personas, you allow greater empathy toward your audience and their attitudes to be understood and tasks prioritised. This insight can then be shared across the organisation and decisions made based on these personas.
Your personas often cover typical age, location, job role, attitudes, emotions, motivations, needs, goals and priority tasks - one to represent each audience group.
Step 3: Map out their journey
It’s now time to map out each persona’s journey with your organisation. Sketch out the key stages and triggers for engaging with your organisation. What are they doing, thinking, feeling at each stage? What are their motivations? As a result of this, you can then plot services and support they need, and the business opportunities. For example, perhaps a member is doing an exam. They’re revising, feeling stressed, needing support. Identifying these concerns for your member could lead to a tailored comms plan around revison time based around support; offering mentorship, pointing them to useful revision guides or engaging on social media so they can connect with peers.
Step 4: Use it!
Experience maps are not something that should be created, looked at once and then put away. They should become an intrinsic part of your organisation’s strategic decision-making. For example, they should be used for internal knowledge share, inter-team collaboration (no siloes - membership, marketing, digital etc. teams should all be working together!), communications strategy, content planning and production, marketing campaigns and defining your member services and offering.
Mapping out your key user journeys will give you the actionable insight to provide a better customer service from across the entire organisation. This will greatly improve the resulting experience of your members, the fulfillment of commercial targets and your brand identify and sentiment.
Get in touch to discuss how you make steps to becoming more user-centred, and how experience mapping could help your organisation.