The best websites make it easy for users to connect with the business they represent.
These sites treat customers as if they’ve met before; they know what makes users tick, and eagerly respond to their unique needs. It’s an example of personalization, which many experts agree is the signature element of effective UX design.
One powerful tool for creating a highly engaging, personalized website experience for your visitors is the customer journey. Properly executed, this data-driven tactic provides the blueprint for designing an adaptive web interface that both embodies your company vision and satisfies a user’s expectations.
Optimally, the UX design process begins by creating a series of user personas for your website and learning as much about your target customers as you can. The customer journey is the mapping mechanism that puts all of that data to work.
Each customer journey constitutes a series of steps. These steps illustrate either how the user is currently interacting with your website or how the users could be interacting with your site. Mapping out the entire customer journey brings to life the entire arc of engagement. The result is a “site flow” that makes it easy for customers to accomplish their goals, starting from their first interaction with the site.
As you can see in each of the examples above, customer journey maps are essentially diagrams that represent key inputs into how your website should be conceived, based on the various ways your customers come into contact with it.
There’s no specific journey template (believe us, we’ve tried). They can be simple or complex, text- or graphically-driven. The only limits are the limits of your own imagination and the complexity of your interactions with website visitors.
However, there are several considerations that should be factored into every customer journey, regardless of the presentation style or complexity involved:
- Consider the context of the site visit. Where is the customer (physical location)? What device is s/he using?
- Consider the user’s progression. How does each step allow the customer to reach the next, and what barriers hold them back? The goal should be to ensure no customer gets “trapped,” and that every user is able to accomplish what s/he came to your site to do.
- What type of functionality is the user expecting from this interaction? How can you create a site that enables those tasks? If you aren’t sure, check out other sites with similar functionality or offerings and see what is commonplace online.
- What is the user’s emotional state? What are their hesitations, pain points or concerns? The last stage of a long checkout process after they have spent hours shopping online for the perfect item might not be the best time to present a customer survey.
One Site, Multiple Pathways
Every website has different audiences, and expectations will vary. The optimal user experience for a company CEO or CIO may differ dramatically from that of the IT manager.
Customer journeys should be developed for each key demographic, with the goal of catering to your site’s primary user groups first, while finding a way to accommodate other users.
It’s not just the user’s job title that matters. The user’s location may matter, as well. Customers based in Dallas or St. Louis may have different perceptions of the product you’re selling than their counterparts in New York or San Francisco, to say nothing of Brussels or Beijing.
Understanding the various ways in which each user group interacts with your site will allow you to more easily visualize the self-selecting path to the best possible experience. Applied to your website’s design, user-driven experience leads to increased engagement and better outcomes.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Pathway
You view your customers as individuals. Why shouldn’t your website? Personalization is the key.
The process begins by using the power of data analytics to determine who you are designing your website for. Customer journeys then incorporate this data into a blueprint for a website that anticipates your customer’s needs before they occur.
The result is an engaging, personalized, user-driven web experience that generates results.
Want to learn more about how you can put the power of personalization to work for your website? Check out our detailed guide to user personas and customer journeys. It’s filled with helpful insights and detailed examples. Click the link below to get started.