What is a User Journey?

From a website point of view, when a user comes to your website, they are usually there to do something – find information, make a purchase, make a comment. A user journey is what this person undertakes from the moment they arrive at your site to when they leave. Every individual step they take in their entire journey through your website is noted and forms what we call a user journey. The diagram below shows how a user journey can be represented.

So how do I know the steps my user is taking?
Quite often, you don’t! You can track overall user actions and behaviours on your website through the use of analytics software such as google analytics, but it is nigh impossible to pin point an actual individual user journey with this software. In order to create a user journey, you’ll need some scenarios and personae.

What is personae?
Personae is plural of persona. You will need several personas (upto 7) in order to ensure that each type of user visiting your website is covered. Essentially you need to create a persona that represents your archetype (typical) user. As there are likely to be quite a few of these, each will require a persona. For each persona you create, establish a scenario which will then decide on the user journey.

An example
Assuming I have a website that sells business stationary and leather goods for the office. My persona is:-

Joe, a 45 year old businessman. Joe falls in the “middle income” group, has a wife and two kids and is a travelling salesman. He uses the internet often, both at home and on his mobile device and netbook/iPad. He’s a regular user of my website and spends on average £30 per visit.

My scenario is:-
Joe is travelling by air to his next appointment, which is the following day. As he has been travelling for some time now, he has luggage which he needs to check-in. This he does, but unfortunately, when he gets to his destination the luggage has been lost in transit. He gets to his hotel after the stores have closed and is in urgent need of some clothes and a briefcase for his mid-morning sales presentation on the following day. As soon as he checks in to the hotel, he gets on the internet and goes to www.mywebsite.com to find a briefcase that can be delivered in the morning.

My user journey would therefore be something like this, albeit not in a diagram format:-

Home Page -> Products ->Office Leather Goods -> Briefcases -> Product detail page -> Shopping bag -> Account Log in -> Checkout -> Delivery address change -> Checkout -> Payment -> Confirmation

Of course, Joe may well get diverted and do other things on the website, but here the user journey encapsulates all that Joe needed to achieve. This is why you need a scenario for your user journeys as well, as this is where you establish the goal/motivation for that user.

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