The user journey: How to design for the ‘wow’ moments

Exploring the user journey is the most important tool for creating amazing digital products. Mapping this out will help you understand how to extend moments of happiness and how to turn frustrations into opportunities, says Lidia Oshlyansky, VP User Experience in Schibsted.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | January 10, 2017

This post was originally published as part of Schibsted’s Future Report (pages 52 and 53) and is reprinted here with the company’s permission.

When building digital products you want to wow the users, and show them that products should always be more than just “good enough.” The key to doing this is understanding how people use the products and recognizing what they like and engage with, so that you can make each experience even better.

For product teams to really understand the what, the how and the why of our users and their product interactions, several things have to come together.

First, we have to map their “user journey” – this is literally the path they take when using our products, as well as the before and after steps. Simply stated, this illustrates what leads a user to engage with products, what they do while there, and what they do after they leave. It’s also about how they think and feel during these interactions.

Does that sound a little far-fetched? With the help of our data scientists and product analysts the UX team can get an understanding of what users do, how they do it and why they do it. They help us map the existing user journey, and that map highlights places where things aren’t working as well as they could.

The product team doesn’t control the entire journey, users will often come from an external site, or leave our site and then return. Maybe they find a good ad on one of our marketplaces and decide to call the seller. They leave us and use their phone to make that call. Maybe they use the calendar on their computer to see when they’re free to meet the seller. We don’t control their calendar or their phone, so we have no control of their journey at this point.

However, observing users can reveal opportunities to help – perhaps by extending moments of happiness or “wow” factors and making them even more amazing. We can take the moments that were a little frustrating or didn’t work so well and turn them into opportunities by fixing the situation or really creating something meaningful that then becomes a “wow” moment.

Remember the first time you clicked a phone number from an app or mobile website and your phone placed the call without you typing the number? What a lovely “wow” moment that was. Now it’s standard and expected.

Things that don’t work so well can, on occasion, give birth to entire new product ideas. For example, digital music streaming made it easier to “own” and share music without resorting to piracy; services like Lyft and Uber hope to help solve traffic issues and access to transport; electric cars were developed partly in response to rising pollution levels. We can all think of many such instances.

Spotting opportunities

When we know our users by quantitative measures (data science and product analysis) and qualitative measures (user experience, design and research) these opportunities for innovation and change are much easier to spot.

Quantitative data is showing us “what” is happening with existing products and services, as well as telling us a lot about “how” (what devices are being used? Which pages loaded? etc.)

The qualitative side of things can provide the “why” of what users are doing and give a deeper understanding of the “how” (which device is used in a situation, in which room in the house? etc.) Combining the qualitative and quantitative gives a fuller picture of the entire user experience, fleshing out a user’s journey through our products, and events outside of them.

With this fuller picture we gain a sense of what isn’t working so well, returning us to the choice to either simply fixing things or finding a better way of doing things – innovating.

Combine every possible source of knowledge about users and their behaviors and you’ll find the moments that make users say “wow!” In fact, this is such an important part of UX that we have it as one of our basic principles: Design for the “wow!” moments.

Click here to download the full Schibsted Future Report.

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