What is it?
Experience mapping is one of a number of mapping tools used to visualise relationships in the field of service design. The focus of experience mapping is the point of view of an individual who is engaging with a particular service as part of a broader context of action; for example, someone who is booking transport or accommodation in the context of a trip; or someone who is transferring household utility contracts to a new address, in the context of moving house. There may be multiple channels and touch-points through which the individual can access different aspects of the service. Experience mapping illustrates the relationships between these different channels and touch-points, organised chronologically to show the different interactions taking place within the service journey.
The individual is represented within the experience map by a persona, developed from user research. The map models the experience that the persona may have of the service. Where there are several relevant personas, different maps may be produced, and the findings consolidated.
The experience map is used to convert findings from the initial research stage of a project, into a catalyst for design ideas.
Where do you use it?
Experience mapping consolidates and communicates understandings arising from the initial research stage of a project. It presents insights that can inform design.
What do you need?
It is important that the experience map is based upon extensive research of users, sufficient to produce insightful and convincing personas as well as an understanding of likely pain points, feelings and behaviours in relation to the different channels, touch-points and interactions through which the service can be experienced.
How is it organised?
Guiding principles for understanding the needs and desires of the persona are included at the top of the map. These guiding principles will have been identified as a part of persona development, based on user research.
Below these guiding principles, the experience journey of the persona is mapped through the different channels and touch-points at each stage of the service engagement and delivery. Experience maps organise experiences chronologically, as different touch-points within the service are experienced in time. The chronology is often presented in three phases:
1. Acquire (becoming aware of and initiating engagement with the service);
2. Use (the key phase in which value is exchanged).
3. Post Use (depending on the service, this may be a period in which benefits are realised and feedback is sought, and/or the relationship is shifted to inactive, or extended into an ongoing or upgraded status).
Note that each phase may have multiple moments, each serviced by a different touch-point or collection of interrelated touch-points.
Findings from research into user needs and desires, as well as into use patterns for, and user experience of, the existing service, are used to understand user thoughts, feelings and behaviours through the journey. These are communicated as a series of questions asked, actions taken, and pain points experienced by the persona at each stage of the journey. Other relevant research findings (for example the volume of traffic that may pass through a particular touch-point) are represented either in a separate horizontal band or visually in the journey map.
The understanding built through the experience map is captured in a set of prompts for what needs to be achieved at each stage of the journey in order to respond to user needs and improve the service experience. These may include a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis and/or a set of value statements reflecting functional, social, emotional, epistemic, and conditional/contextual value that may be delivered through particular interactions within the service journey. These prompts, delivered at the base of the map, are intended as catalysts for design ideas.
Kalbach, J. 2016, Mapping Experiences: A Guide to Creating Value Through Journeys, Blueprints and Diagrams. Beijing, Boston, Farnham, Sebastopol, Tokyo: O’Reilly Media.