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In the design world, we love to make the analogy of how great designers are like jazz musicians. These Miles Davises, John Coltranes and other dream team players are said to get together and brainstorm their way to amazing ideas after just looking at a potential customer in the eye.
Great for them. But you and I are still not in that league… yet :)
I play the guitar. I'm OK, but I put a lot of energy to put a great show together by memorizing and repeating the playlist. And I compensate the lack of talent with some energy on stage.
The memorizing and repeating part is key for me to build my creative confidence. I believe experience maps are the ultimate sheet music for someone getting started in this thing called experience design.
Just as sheet music provides the framework for a song and aligns the band toward a common goal, an experience map (journey map, service blueprint, et al) serves as central document teams can rally around. Like a music score, a map breaks down experience so we can understand it, measure for measure.
Compare the sheet music below to a service blueprint created by Brandon Schauer. Both break down the flow of action into individual units and arrange them chronologically on the page so others can follow along.
Why do I think experience maps are the most important song to learn first? They combine the right mixture of empathy and holistic view that helps you not only understand problems, but eventually drive the design of laser-focused solutions.
When starting a mapping effort, there are several basic questions the mapmaker my first address:
Even though I’d recommend sticking to a template first, you can be flexible and fit the activity to your need.
Here are a few other important points to keep in mind:
What I love the most about experience maps is that they are a platform to make change happen.
The first map will show the “as is scenario”, where you'll see which are the pain points that need to be addressed to radically improve the experience.
That will trigger a lot of what if questions until you reach one that will become your guiding star towards great ideas.
Let’s say you are focusing on the supermarket shopper that was to the the ingredients for a recipe she’ll try that night to surprise some friends.
You will be able to identify that having to memorize the list could be causing her anxiety, and that she's always saying "remember the frozen onions" because she forgot it last time.
The folks from IBM Design have a great framework: who, what, wow.
"The grocery shopper who has a precise list of ingredients for a recipe, needs to remember and collect all the items, in less than 5 minutes"
You can now start brainstorming and sketching potential solutions based on that new value proposition.
Once you've decided which one to pursue, you will need to create another map with the “will be” scenario, where you define the blueprint of the experience you want to prototype and test.
Here’s a very cool video of Tom Wujec, fellow at Autodesk, describing some of the theory behind the process. If you are in a hurry, skip to minute 4:40 to check a cool timelapse of people doing a journey around how to make toast.
Self reference incoming: you can naturally use MURAL to get your Experience Maps co-designed. Jim Kalbach, our Head of Customer Success and Education, recently had a popular Webinar where he shared how to Map Experiences Online.
Here’s the 4 minute version:
Practice, practice, practice. 10,000 hours they say.
So: get your copy of Mapping Experiences from my colleague Jim Kalbach, follow @MURAL for upcoming Webinars, and sign up for a free trial to MURAL to check out our templates and get your team practicing right away.