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March 31, 2014

March Box Lunch: Experience Mapping

March 31, 2014

Every month SmallBox hosts a lunch and learn – appropriately named Box Lunch – session to cover industry and cultural topics for clients and friends. This month, our UX (that’s user experience) expert and Design Director Lydia Whitehead walked us through experience mapping

Experience Mapping 101 

The overarching question is: What separates an experience from a great experience? Whether it's digital or analog, myriad touch points and channels make up an experience. Mapping those touch points is a holistic way for us to look at the experience, and help us elevate it to a great one

Lydia gave us three examples of companies that are very conscious of user experience:

The tech giant is one of the most used examples of great marketing and exceptional UX, and it’s because they are very intentional about the experience they provide customers – from the retail experience to opening the box of a new Macbook.

Two words: fast pass. Disney invented it, and now the fast pass is a staple among the biggest theme parks. Disney listened to visitor feedback – waiting in line stinks! – and created a solution to help solve it. 

Chances are that whenever you visit a Starbucks, the retail experience is very consistent, even around the world. From free WiFi to an app that works as a membership card and method of payment, it’s obvious that Starbucks is thinking about what customers want. 

Mapping an Experience 

An experience map comprises three important concepts: think, feel, and do – in short, it’s what users are thinking, feeling, and doing throughout the entire interaction. To do this, consider the various touch points and channels from a user’s interaction. Channels are the mediums by which users interact – social networks, email, retail location. Touch points are the reason behind those interactions – giving feedback, purchasing a product.

Lydia suggests the following steps for mapping the most accurate user experience. 

1. Research

If possible, talk to users directly – interview them or send out a survey. If direct user interaction isn’t possible, talk to those who are most closely involved. Use the “think, feel, do” concepts, as well as touch points and channels to prompt your research. 

2. Chart the Data 

This is the extra fun part! Using your research, team, and a bunch of post-its and markers, visualize what an average experience is like for the user. We like to use different colors to represent thinking, feeling and doing. As an example, our group of Box Lunchers charted an average experience of buying a drink from Starbucks.

3. Find Opportunities

As you chart, look for pain points and frustrations in the user experience. Look for areas that, when addressed, will help elevate the experience. Ask the questions, “What is the experience like now?” and “What do we want it to be?" We use green dots (or Mr. Yuk stickers) to pinpoint these instances.

4. Share

The final step in experience mapping is sharing your findings. Creating a common language and awareness around the experience will help when the time comes to brainstorm around next steps and possible solutions. 

How to Use Your Experience Map

Once you've mapped the user experience, put it into action! This exercise can be used to better an in-store experience, like we did with the Starbucks example, to create user-friendly website navigation, and anywhere else you find multiple user touchpoints. 

For another example of this process put into action, check out this previous post from Creative Director Leigh Marino.

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