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Demystifying User Journeys

This blogpost is a part of my Ecommerce series, but the advice below can apply to any website really!

A user journey is what it sounds like. It’s the journey that a website user takes from start to finish on your website. It hopefully sometimes ends with conversion, which is just the web designer's term for having a user complete an action you wanted. You could want someone to sign up to a newsletter,  purchase an item, or send you an email! It's whatever action that you think is valuable.

It's important that we note that your customers are all as diverse and varied as you, and they’ll all come to your website in different ways. Some people will enter quickly from Instagram and come back and check you out later. Some will be diving through a google search and find you. Some will get sent a link from your email directly, or have it shared through a text message with a friend.

While you can’t plan for every eventuality, of a user getting to your website you can still make a plan! Why make a plan? Because your user should be at the heart of your website. Your website is for them, and we don't want to leave their experience on your website up to chance, we want to make a plan! Let's make a plan to make your website a joy for your users!

  1. Get to know your users

We need to understand who your users are, before we can help them get to where they want to go.

If you’ve previously worked with a brand/web designer or strategist, you’ve probably created user profiles before. These profiles are representatives of your most likely customers. So for example…

If for your business you are a florist with an online flower shop in Chicago one fo your profiles may be...

Melanie: A late twenty something, professional who’s getting married. She cares about the flowers for her wedding being sourced ethically, and is likely to purchase local flowers. She's casual and down to Earth , so she doesn’t want anything to stuffy or to glossy. She’s down to earth and doesn’t want tto spend a fortune, but she understand good quality, and will pay what things are worth. Feeling comfortable through out the whole process is really important to her. 

Putting together user profiles is highly valuable, because it's about stepping outside of yourself, and thinking deeply about others. If Melanie is your customer, and your website user, you hopefully really care about her and want to get to know her! While this exercise takes a bit of imagination, it should be based in both who your current customers/users are and who you WANT your customers/users to be.

If you haven’t created user profilesbefore and you're feeling a bit like, WOAH- how do I get to that? I’d recommend downloading my Grow Your Brand workbook, which guides you through creating 2 user profiles. 

The most important thing is that you aren’t just looking at age, income, ect but instead rounding them out as a whole person. What is it that they’re looking for that you can help them with. What don’t they want, what do they want, what do they care about most? 

  1. Understand what your users need

Okay so now that you know your user, what do they need from your online shop? 

It’s important to remember here, that most people will not buy from someone the first time they enter their site. They may have come just to have a nosey, to get inspiration, or because a friend is shopping from them and they're curious. We go to ecommerce sites all the time for reasons beyond buying. BUT, that doesn’t mean, that those people won’t become buyers on their 5th or even 10th visit to the shop! 

So what is each user profile looking to do when they first visit your website? If you’ve really gotten to know them, you should be able to identify or make an educated guess on what they’re most likely to be looking for. Again, we can't plan for everything, but what is most likely is good here.

So let's keep going with Melanie from the example above. What does she want when she enters your online flower shop? Well we know she's actively looking to purchase a flower package for her wedding, and based on her profile we know the she is looking for information on where the flowers are sourced/ethics, and pricing.

  1. Plot their journeys

Once we know what our user is looking for, we need to plot their journey to get there. We need to think about each step someone will take to get where they need to be. Will they scroll through our homepage or will they use the navigation bar at the top straight away? All of that is based on their profile and their need.

So for Melanie, it may be...

Step 1. Melanie scrolls through th homepage to get a feel if this is right for her, she wants to feel comfortable

Step 2.  She scrolls back up and clicks the packages tab on the navigation bar to get a feel for the price, if it's too expensive, there's no reason for her to keep going on the website

Step 3. Happy with what she's learned, she heads to the portfolio page to see examples of the flower pakcages at other people's weddings and read testimonial quotes

Step 4. She leaves the website by clicking on the Instagram icon in the footer, to dive into the images more

That would be her first visit, finished.

Now that you know who your user is, what they need, and how they’re going to get to it on your website, you can plan and design your website with your user in mind! Don't leave your users lost and confused on your website, make sure you've laid a clear path for them to get to where they want to go.

As always, remember that you can play with this! Try out different things, check your analytics to see what’s working and shift things if they aren't. Nothing is set in stone, and your website definitely shouldn't be!

Need help creating those user profiles? Don't forget to check out Grow Your Brand!