The User Experience doesn’t start, nor does it necessarily end, with digital.
What do you see when you read the following job postings?
Please allow me to tell you what I see. I see companies who believe user experience is to be confined to the online experience and bound to the digital product itself. Perhaps you do too. We do, after all, have a collection of digital skills and we seem to have endless debates over which digital skills we should add on to our set.
The constant volley of opinions and discussions on the skills and roles of a UX professional has equally produced backlash, even from within its own community.
As much as I can empathize with Thomas Wendt’s comment, I believe the “journey”, the CUSTOMER JOURNEY to be precise, holds all the answers we are searching for.
If you are shouting at your screen right now,
“No, no, you meant to say user journey!”
I hear you, but I am not confused. I do indeed mean customer journey.
For those who are scratching their heads and wondering the difference, one of my online superheros, Nick Babich, tells us the difference in his article, Why All UX Designers Should Be Creating User Journeys, And Here’s How To Make One :
“A user journey is a visualization of the process that a person goes through in order to accomplish a goal. Typically, it’s presented as a series of steps in which a person interacts with a product. As opposed to the customer journey, which analyzes the steps before and after using the product, user journey only examines what happens inside the app/website.”
UX professionals use their skills to identify the touchpoints users have online and the best way to interact with users at those online touchpoints. Processes such as the Design Thinking Process, were designed and developed to help with this. While this Methodology has been the foundation for UX design, it has been slowly, increasingly failing.
UX professionals use methods such as user journeys inside a phase such as Empathize which is inside a methodology such as Design Thinking.
When we zoom out we can see that these are really just micro-methodologies inside a much larger journey.
We need to see the forest through the trees.
The forest, in this scenario, is the customer journey and the trees are all the ways the customer is using to get from beginning to end of that journey. A website would be an example of a tree (that’s where most UX professionals hang out and do Design Thinking).
This is where the customer journey comes in.
The customer journey tells the whole story. It answers questions that the UX professional needs such as why that person walked into the forest in the first place, what are they looking for, how long did it take them to walk through it, why did they leave, who did they tell about it?
After seeing the bigger picture, it is much easier to design for the digital product experience. Experiences such as:
- If your users aren’t completing the sales funnel, you may discover that they are leaving the site because they want to see product reviews.
- The users are searching for videos on YouTube to see reviews of your product type. You now know to add an influencer video on YouTube that demos your product and links to your website in the description. On the product page you feature several videos underneath the product photo that show projects using your product.
- You then discover that users are posting photos of themselves using your product to complete one of the projects you posted on the product page. You reach out to those users and populate your blog with Guest Posts of those users and their project story. You now added content, validation and social sharing value to your website.
The customer journey helps identify opportunities for what type of content, features and elements to put into the digital product. These features, elements and content would also influence the other channels being used by the brand such as social, retail, and catalogs. All together, this creates a multi-channel experience that acts in harmony with the entire customer experience.
Those opportunities also help you communicate what the client actually needs in their digital product which saves time and money spent in iterations and prototyping.
But wait, there’s more! Not only can a complete and thoroughly researched customer journey create a harmonious multi-channel experience, but it can also lead the way to creating a true omni-channel experience.
Where a multi-channel experience connects all the steps of the customer journey together, this experience still has the user traveling around the different locations (channels) of the brand.
An onmi-channel experience allows the user to stand still and creates available touchpoints around the customer’s life so when a trigger event (micro-moment) happens, the brand is there at the user’s fingertips, at the end of a voice command, two miles from their house, ready to inform, serve, and deliver the solution they sought out.
This means taking UX and working with Strategy, Marketing, Social, PR and breaking down all those silos and all those “Online Only” preconceptions. This means less trying to figure out which skills we need to add but which people we need to work with. This stepping back so we can come together to create seamless, holistic journeys that end up exceeding expectations, and business goals.
Step back and see the forest through the trees. It’s an amazing view.
Thank you for reading.