UX Design: Role of Experience Maps

While scanning the UX design space, I came across “experience maps”, a technique for modeling business processes in order to better understand it and then,  based on that understanding ,  design a UX which takes into account the functional as well as psychological needs of the users. Let’s take a scenario to explain this idea.

When you go to a site to perform something e.g. register for a utility service. There are certain things which occupy your mind at different stages of the whole process. e.g. in this case, different stages might be:

  • When you are registering for a service
  • When you have registered for service and are using it
  • When you want to terminate service

At each stage, as a user, you might be engaged in multiple mental activities e.g.

  • Doing something (e.g. registering, terminating etc.)
  • Thinking  (about various aspects of the service)
  • Feeling  (whether this is right or wrong decision)
  • Experiencing (overall experience of the process)

Now at the time of registering service, you might be thinking whether this service provider is offering you fair price?, should I re-consider other options?, how costly it would be to switch service provider later on?, are there any hidden fees?  etc. Similarly when you have registered for the service, you may be interested in things like analyzing your service usage, viewing your billing history, upgrading or degrading service etc.

All of the above thoughts represent the psychological needs of the users. For a registered user, you should provide easily accessible tools to analyze usage and billing history. I remember how hard it was for me to unsubscribe from a credit score web site.  Finally I found the option, but that bad experience prohibits me to refer anyone else to this site.

As a designer, whatever system you design, you should always consider user needs (functional as well as psychological) during the whole process and design each aspect of the system, especially UX,  so that system meets these needs in best possible way.

Here is an example of an experience map which captures the rail booking process and explains different thoughts that occupy user’s mind during whole process.

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