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Experience mapping has become a core experience design technique. It is a great exercise to generate conversation around gaining empathy for customers and seeing products from the outside in.
Though experience mapping is indeed important, it is not perfect. Some notable drawbacks include the need to be physically together, dedicating time to creating printed versions of maps that wind up being out-of-date, and relying on low resolution images sent via email.
We believe there is a more efficient way: mapping experiences using online tools. (You can find more details in Jim Kalbach's upcoming O’Reilly book Mapping Experiences.)
A full recording of the webinar appears at the end of this post.
We asked two poll questions during the webinar. Here is how the audience responded:
Big takeaway: more than 99% of our audience works remotely at least some of the time. All the more reason to go Digital First.
Big takeaway: aside from being able to work remotely, our audience really valued the ability to maintain their momentum.
Here are some of the resources mentioned in the webinar:
More on the concept of alignment diagrams:
Guides to Experience Mapping
MURAL on a touchscreen:
Remote unmoderated testing service:
Here are exports of the murals shown in the webinar. Click the thumbnail to see the full image.
Below are some of the questions we didn’t get to in the Q&A of the live webinar.
Q: Do these deliverables change if they are to be shown to clients?
A: That depends on the nature of the effort and your relationship with the client. In more formal settings, yes--you may need a separate presentation of the diagram. In this case, the approach described in the webinar may be the internal, working diagram for the project team. From there, you might need to create a polished, high-resolution version to be printed on a wall.
However, I have found that diagrams that look final with a high degree of graphic sophistication don’t encourage contribution. The advantage working in a digital, flexible format is that you can have clients participate in the creation process. To the degree possible, I recommend keeping the process open and allowing others to contribute.
Q: How are you modeling spaces that the actor occupies more richly? More textured?
A: First, I recommend completing a what I call a value chain map. Some people may also call this a stakeholder map. The goals is to get an overview of primary actors in the experience, their relationships to one another, and the flow of value. The steps are simple:
There is no right or wrong answer, so it’s just a matter of showing the value chain in a way that makes sense to your team. Note that the number of actors on either side may not be balanced: you may only have one provider on the left, for instance.
Then, decide which actors are the most relevant and should be fleshed out into personas. In the webinar, we showed “proto-personas” or provisional personas. We recommend creating detailed personas from these based on stronger empirical evidence.
Q: What is the best way to transition from online to offline mapping, or vice versa, in the moments when it is possible to bring a remote team together for an on-site workshop?
A: The quick answer is, don’t transition--continue using the digital version even when face-to-face. That’s what we did at MURAL in the workshop described in the webinar. You can project the diagram on a screen so it’s large enough for everyone to see, if needed. You can also have everyone log in from a separate computer and contribute directly to the digital version. It works quite well in our experience.
Otherwise, you can do the first three steps of the process outlined in the webinar-- 1. Initiate, 2. Investigate, and part of 3. Illustrate--all in MURAL. From there, you’d have to create a high resolution version of the map suitable for printing and use in a workshop. Afterwards, you can use the digital version in MURAL to capture your workshop notes and outcomes.
Q: Can experience mapping be used to determine content requirements?
A: Yes, absolutely. You should check out some of the work that Donna Lichaw is doing around “storylines.” Here’s are some articles describing her technique:
“How to Craft a Narrative Arc”
“Introduction to Experience Storymapping”
Forthcoming book: Storylines
While a “story” and storytelling are different than experience mapping, there are similarities in approach. People have coordinated content to phases in an experience map in a similar way.
Q: You've mentioned some new functionality under development, what do you see the timeline when they will be delivered.
A: We should be rolling out a new version of MURAL from now until the end of the end. You will be getting a notification of the upgrade as a customer.
Q: A great way to digitize sticky notes is to use the 3M Post-It Plus app. Have you tried it?
A: Yes, we have. Our iPhone app has similar capabilities.
Q: I found the voting feature very helpful during a voice of the customer session. However, it didn't preserve the result of the vote - where I had 4 separate votes. I had to screenshot the results before moving forward. Will results be saved in a future release (with the visual dots)?
A: We hope to have versioning on voting results in the future, but is no concrete timeline for including that capability.
Q: Thinking about combining concept mapping or mind mapping elements in MURAL. Are there tools already built in (i.e., anchoring and drawing arrows with comments between elements)?
A: We do have lines and arrows that can be attached to elements in a concept or mind map. If you select a sticky note with a single click, for instance, and hover over the thin line surrounding it, you should see a small circle. Click and hold this circle while dragging towards another sticky note. You’ll create an arrow that you can attached to the second note
Q: Any tips for using MURAL for interactive activities in remote user research? Can I invite guests (research participants) to interact with boards? Can versions of boards be saved to capture work of different participants?
A: We’ve seen people using MURAL for interactive activities for customer research. You can invite guests to interact with a board and contribute to it. Currently, inviting them would occupy a seat on your account, but you can remove them later. We’re working on the concept of a “guest account” that would avoid taking a seat away.
We currently don’t have versioning on murals. You can duplicate a mural, however, and create a separate mural for each participant or group of participants.
Q: How about moderating client/stakeholder involvement in MURAL, is the platform thought through for that?
A: You can invite others to any mural, but they will occupy a seat on your account. If it is a temporary guest, you can remove them after you are done interacting with them. We are working on guest accounts.
Q: If the team is using MURAL and I write something, the other can see what I write right away?
A: Yes, you can usually see the content others contribute within a second or two.
Q: Where's the best place to learn how to set my own templates up in MURAL?
A: We are working on guidelines for creating templates. Currently, we don’t have any public information. If you want more information, please contact Jim directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Is there any sample of the experience mapping workshop that we can watch and learn from?
A: We offer training on various techniques, including experience mapping (both offline and online). Please contact Jim for more details: email@example.com
Q: Can viewers who are not MURAL members vote?
A: No, currently only people logged into MURAL and can access the mural where the voting is taking place can vote.
Q: Does the size of the file uploaded to MURAL affect the maps efficiency? If so, what is the size limit for JPGs?
A: There are no size limits on the size of images or amount of images uploaded into a mural. However, we find that the browser starts performing slower with mural that have a lot of images or large images. You may see slower response times with a great deal of images.
Q: Can you download your mural as a PDF?
A: No, not directly from MURAL. You export a mural in a high resolution PNG file. That can be converted to a PDF in graphics program.
Q: Is there a quick way to create a table with specific raws and columns? Layouts only have a 2X2 and a 3X3 option
A: We currently don’t have tables in MURAL, but we hope to be adding them in the near future.
Here is a recording of the full webinar: