A user journey is one of methodologies / tools and techniques in a UX design process.
Basically you put yourself in user’s shoes, think through and write down the steps you would go through focusing on a high-level journey of a user.
Let me give you an example.
Here’s a user journey that I wrote down based on my experience when I participated in a food packing volunteer work previously.
- Signed up as a team of 5 people prior to the date
- Showed up on that day and checked in on-site
- Received a cap, stored personal items in a locker
- Got an introduction presentation of the non-profit organization
- Got an instruction on how to enter the site and what to do
- Each team was called one after another
- When called, washed hands thoroughly
- Moved to an assigned station
- Got on-site instruction
- Started packing food with music
- Count down started and stopped at 2 hour mark
- Did a clean up based on the instruction
- Left the station, disposed gloves and cap
- Watched a closing presentation with results
Once you format these numbered steps into a diagram like this, it’s called a user journey map.
A user journey could also be written as a story that consists of a few paragraphs.
I decided to participate in a volunteer work to contribute to my local community. So I looked for nearby volunteer opportunities, and found one that is close by with dates that work for my schedule.
It turned out that this volunteer work required 5 people to form a team and participate, so I signed up as a team of 5 people prior to the date.
When the scheduled date arrived, I showed up at the specified location, and checked in on-site. After checking in, and entering the building, I received a cap, and stored my personal items in a locker.
Once the majority of the participant checked in, we saw an introductory presentation of the non-profit organization who was organizing this event. The presentation covered an instruction on how to enter the site and what to do.
After the presentation, we were instructed to wash our hands thoroughly, then were guided to an assigned station.
At the station, there was an on-site instruction which covered details on how to split tasks within the team members.
Once the on-site instruction was finished, the music started and we started packing food.
The food packing work continued for about 2 hour straight. During all that time, we were focusing on trying to do our given tasks efficiently. As we repeated the same task again and again, we got better at it, and started to enjoy the rythm of it with the music.
The session went a lot faster than expected. Right before the 2 hour mark, the staff member started counting down. As the staff counted zero, we stopped the food packing work.
We did the cleaning of our station based on the given instruction.
Once the cleaning was done, we left the station, and disposed gloves and caps to a trashcan.
Lastly, we watched the closing presentation.
The organizer showed us how many food packages we packed collectively during this 2 hour session.
They also showed us how much impact those food packages will make.
This closing presentation informed us the actual result of our work in an understandable way.
As a result, I had a very satisfying volunteer work experience for this 2 hour. It was pleasant.
As I was translating my journey map steps into sentences and paragraphs, I ended up adding more information in terms of how I felt, how it transitioned from one step to another and so on.
As you can see, user journey can be described in different ways.
Steps make it easy to grasp an overall flow because it’s like bullet points with shorter descriptions. Steps can easily be visualized into a user journey map format. This is great for clear and logical thinking. From here, you could easily see how a specific step could be broken down into more granular levels such as task flows and wireframe flows.
On the other hand, paragraphs make it a good story with some richer nuances such as emotional ups and downs of a user. You can get a similar feeling to when watching a movie or reading a novel.
As a UX designer, it’s important to be empathetic to a user.
This sentence and paragraph style of a user journey makes it easier to relate to a user in an empathetic way.
But it’s a bit longer, and it’s harder to visually see the overall flow.
Whichever method you end up choosing, the most important point is that, a user journey allows you and other audience to “live through” a user’s experience. It allows you to feel what it’s like to be a user and go through that specific journey. It allows its audience to be empathetic to a user.
In doing so, a user journey especially in a text format, allows you to remain at a high-level focusing on the core journey and the core values, so that you don’t get distracted by all the UI details.
This will greatly benefit you when you design the actual user experience of that journey in form of wireframes and prototypes later on.
Check out YouTube version too.