An introduction to user journeys

user journeysWe regularly map out user journeys when we are developing new websites for our clients. We find they are a useful tool for ensuring users of the website can successfully navigate the website and complete key tasks, whether that’s finding information or purchasing a product or service.

What is a user journey?

A user journey is the path a visitor takes through a website to complete a task. This task could be anything from applying for a bank account, to finding out what day rubbish is collected in your area.

What is a user journey used for?

User journeys are used in user-experience design to help improve the pathway of users through a website. Developing user journeys can help provide a more holistic view of a website – rather than viewing each page in isolation, you can see the process between pages.

Using user journeys from the start of a website design project will help ensure that the final design is likely to have top-level functionality for the people who will be using the site. A website that has been developed without consideration for how it will be used by visitors is unlikely to result in a positive experience, and will probably have a high bounce rate as a result, which will in turn lower its search engine rankings.

Developing user journeys

Multiple journeys

There will not be one single user journey for a website. Instead, there will be a number of different user journeys depending on the different user goals and tasks. If you have already developed user personas, it is likely you may want to map out different user journeys for each persona.

Step-by-step breakdown

Each user journey will show all the individual steps needed to complete a task. The aim of mapping out the journey should be allow the user to complete their task in the most frictionless way possible, eliminating unnecessary steps and sources of frustration (which may cause them to give up and click away).

Even simple websites need to cater for a number of user journeys. For example, some typical user journeys for a restaurant website might include:

  • Existing customer trying to find opening times
  • Potential new customer looking for a menu to see if they offer gluten-free options
  • Customer wanting to book a table online
  • Customer wanting to find contact details to book a table by phone

For more task-rich websites, for instance an online banking portal, the number and complexity of user journeys can significantly increase. In both scenarios, by taking the time to develop clear user journeys for each of the identified user tasks, you can be confident that these users will be able to complete their tasks on the finished site. This in turn will ensure a lower bounce rate and better website search ranking.

Across all devices

Now that we use websites on a variety of devices, when developing user journeys it is important to consider how the task will be completed on mobile devices, as well as desktops.

User journey case study – Clyde Cruises

When redeveloping Clyde Cruises website, we completed detailed research into the user journey so that our design allowed users to quickly find information on departures and prices, then easily book a place on-board online. The user journeys were mapped out on both mobile and desktop, so that visitors could seamlessly book their trip, whichever device they were using.

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