A user journey is the ‘path’ or ‘route’ a user takes to reach a goal. This path will be made up of different tasks that can happen both online and offline.

A full customer journey analysis would usually review each touchpoint, i.e. each moment a customer (or potential customer) comes into contact with the brand. In this article we are going to focus on how to review and improve the online user journey of a website or software product.

By understanding your users and the paths they take, it is possible to identify any barriers that make their journey difficult or frustrating.

When you have obstacles on a website, such as a lengthy booking process or a complex form, it can affect dropout rate and reduce conversion. Similarly, if a bespoke software product has a difficult-to-use interface, it will result in low usage, poor engagement rates and inefficient manual workarounds.

Understanding and optimising certain processes (or workflows) that users do on your website or software can be the first step in transforming the performance of your product.

Improving an online user journey isn’t complicated, but it does require sufficient time and an unbiased approach. It is for this reason that many organisations employ an experienced UX professional or appoint a specialist UX digital agency to manage their project.

If you want to review the user experience of your website or software product, here’s our suggested 7 steps on how to improve the online user journey.

 

7 steps to improving an online user journey

  1.    Identify the journeys with the highest potential gain

It is best to start with reviewing a specific process that will have the most impact on the organisation, such as an online booking or purchase process, a registration or a sales enquiry form.

If you are reviewing web application software be sure to understand the processes that are most important to your users. Whilst there may not be a sales conversion to improve like on a commercial website, instead it might be addressing issues such as ease of inputting relevant new client details, uploading documents or reviewing performance statistics.

To find out which processes to prioritise you need to ask your users – either directly or review customer feedback and social media - to see which are the most frustrating elements. If you can’t gain direct access to users, speak with front line employees no doubt they will have heard the gripes of your customers.

 2.    Identify your user types

As part of your initial feedback research you should also aim to profile the different types of users. This is important because different user types may behave differently, doing different tasks or undertaking different journeys.

Users types should be defined by whichever attributes are most relevant to their use of the site.  Age and location might be irrelevant, but segmenting users by engagement or purchasing behaviour such as new customers, second time customers and loyal customers, could provide more actionable insight. For software products, you might identify the tech savvy users, the technophobe frequent users and light product users, for example.

3.    Identify the key user goals for the specific process

The next step is to identify the user goals for undertaking the process. As an example, a user goal might be to gain online quotes for pet insurance; another might be to purchase pet insurance. Completing an insurance quotation form is a multi-step process that requires numerous fields to be completed.

Whilst in some cases it may be the same goal for all users, the tasks that users undertake to reach their goal might vary. 

4.    Map out the expected user behaviour

As a UX agency we would use our experience combined with best practice to map out the optimum user journeys for each goal.

If you have limited UX experience you can still think about the journeys you expect users to take when trying to achieve their goal. This will provide a basis on which to ask informed questions about the actions taken by the user such as the pages they visit, in which order and the buttons they click. This will also help to identify any potential obstacles during the process.

5.    Observe users interacting with the site

User testing provides valuable insight. By setting each user a goal and observing how they achieve it, you can compare their chosen routes with your expectations.

By watching, listening and asking questions you can discover if and why users don’t follow what you expected. You should record how they reach specific pages, which interactions they make and if/where they get lost, confused or frustrated along their journey?

Did different users take different approaches? Did any of the users need to find additional information during the process, either online or offline? Did they refer to things differently to the terminology used on the site?

Whilst it is worth looking at web analytics to see dwell time and exit pages, this only provides two-dimensional insight. Statistics can tell you ‘what’ is happening, but it is only by gaining this first hand research can you discover ‘why’.

6.    Review the user journeys

Once you have the research and insights you should be able to start identifying the key issues causing barriers to conversion.

It may mean that changes are needed to the physical journey, i.e. changes to navigation, interactions or call to actions. The insight may highlight the need to change other on-page elements such as the user interface design or content.

7.    Design wireframes to test new workflows

If your insights show that changes are needed, it is relatively easy to test the affects of those amendments using wireframes.

Wireframes are the outline sketches of what is displayed on screen.  The placement of the text, images and icons are key to ensuring that the system is intuitive, easy to navigate and the content is balanced effectively.

When designing your wireframes, your solutions might include moving and/or renaming calls-to-action, introducing new features such as ‘save and complete later’ or chunking information down into more pages and therefore more manageable chunks.

If you are having back-end development work done in addition to a new interface, ensure you have budget to turn your wireframes into prototypes, and test them with real users

Using wireframes and prototypes are a cost effective way to test that your journey changes and/ or interface redesign is a success.

 

In summary

User Experience is about understanding the needs, wants and frustrations of your users. If you are failing to meet your users expectations, then your website or software is underperforming.

You don’t need a huge investment to achieve major impact and whilst it isn’t complicated, it can be time-consuming for someone inexperienced. 

By appointing UX and design specialists such as DotLabel, you’ll receive expert user experience advice and skills, plus up-to-date best practice and support.

Our specialists can provide a user experience audit to identify and improve the quick win priorities, or manage your end-to-end project from UX and design through to full web development.

Contact us to chat about how we can improve and simplify complex processes on your website, web application, portal or intranet to improve conversion and engagement.