• Design

How to Define Website User Journeys: Free Template

Designing an Effective Website User Experience Using Journeys

Defining, charting and understanding website user journeys can help you to better understand how your customers interact with your website.

By asking core questions about users experience your website, you can achieve stronger customer engagement, better conversions and greater profits.

Read on and you can learn how to use user journeys effectively to structure your website – and at the end you can download our free Website Strategy Template.

  1. What is a User Journey?
  2. How are User Journeys Mapped?
  3. Mapping User Journeys Practically Using Personas
  4. Website User Journey Mapping Exercise
  5. Expectation vs Reality in Website User Journeys
  6. Two Useful User Journey Data & Analytics Tools
  7. Benefits of Effective User Journeys
  8. Download a Free Template

 

The answers can be broad and can open up challenging discussions about how your public facing website is structured, and how you use digital tools in your business. But these can often lead to valuable learning.

In the context of web design, mapping user journeys allows you to bridge the gap between you and your users. The insights this can provide can allow you to restructure your website to better serve your site visitors and their goals.

Optimising the key engagements and touchpoints of each website journey is a crucial aspect in consolidating the ultimate website user experience.

user journey planning with sticky notes on a whiteboard

So, what is a user journey?

A user journey is defined by charting four key user experience aspects in how your customers interact with your website. Those aspects are

 

  • The landing page: where they first arrive on your website
  • The journey: different pages, content and features they make use of during their time on your website
  • The conversion: it won’t happen every time, but this is the key action that you hope a user will take on your website
  • The exit page: the place that users leave your website

 

For every user that reaches your site, a step by step process is triggered. Via this process, that web visitor aims to reach their desired goal. For example, from browsing the ‘about us’ page, a user might visit the ‘products’ page and eventually make a purchase. Each of these segments should be collected and visually mapped to see the flow of user interactions.

Once the most frequent permutations of these have been collected, a designer can assess issues or gaps that can be redesigned and optimised, thereby allowing user goals to be reached quicker and more efficiently.

 

How are user journeys mapped?

The first aspect to consider is pinning down the kind of user personas attracted to your website. By conducting internal workshops, followed up by interviews with real users and user research surveys, you can collect this data.

You then need to segment each user profile along with the type of website goal they want to achieve. By understanding the user’s motivations and expectations e.g. “I want to complete an online order in under 2 minutes”, you can gauge based on your website structure whether or not this is possible. 

If you are in the planning stage of a major website initiative, it may well be worth considering these journeys in terms of their job stories – intent statements that help clarify the tasks each user wants to achieve on your website.

 

 

What are job stories and how Crucible use them

 


To further break down the goals, create a list of website touchpoints of interactions each user makes to allow for further optimisations.

For example, by doing this you may find that 70% of your customers want to order one particular product line from your e-commerce store. They may have to navigate from your homepage, view ‘all products’ and then view that particular product line from there.

Simplifying this, you might choose to add a direct link to that product line from your website’s homepage, simplifying that journey and saving the user valuable time and clicks.

Traditionally, a website user journey map can be illustrated using a flow diagram depicting each action and decision points for every page. This can help you understand whether or not additional elements are needed – e.g. Calls-to-Action (CTAs) or links – to smoothen the experience.

Don’t know where to start with mapping your user journeys?

At Crucible, we are specialists in website design for organisations with complex user needs. From our smallest to our largest design and build website projects, we always ensure we understand users and chart their journeys scientifically during our discovery process. This website for Churchill College, Cambridge is a prime example of a project which required substantial planning around different user needs. Get in touch today for a quotation or a no-obligation discussion of your project.

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Mapping Website User Journeys Practically Based on Personas

Each of your user personas will interact with your website differently, and often will have arrived at your website via different means as well. For example, you may have an understanding that a certain type of persona – let’s call them Freddie – lands on your website via your social content.

Freddie as a persona might specifically follow your business or organisation’s page on Facebook. Or, he might have it advertised to him or suggested by friends. As a result, he might engage when you post content to your Facebook feed. What this means, however, is that when Freddie lands on your website, he’s not landing on the homepage. His first experience of the website will be landing on a content or blog page.

This will result in a different website experience for Freddie, and depending upon his level of familiarity with your organisation, his impression and likelihood to convert could be very different to a user who lands for the first time on your homepage.

 

Website User Journey Mapping Exercise

Let’s say that Alyssa lands on your homepage. On your homepage, you might have several key factors to help Alyssa learn about your organisation:

  • Key messaging or mission statement
  • Client list or key case studies list
  • Social proof in the form of testimonials
  • Company-focused imagery and content

 

Let’s go through those again but understand what Alyssa gets from each component.

  • Key messaging or mission statement
    • An understanding of brand purpose
  • Client list or key case studies list
    • A knowledge of your expertise or authority
  • Social proof in the form of testimonials
    • Trust that others have verified you can provide the services she needs
  • Company-focused imagery and content
    • An impression of the type of people you are

 

You can therefore have a stronger understanding, given that Alyssa has engaged with those items, of what else she might look at next and her likelihood to convert, continue her journey, or exit the website.

 

Freddie, by comparison, is landing on a blog page. He gets

  • A story that your company has written
  • Some details about why it’s important
  • Links to other stories
  • Links to particular case studies that are relevant to that blog

 

Engaging in the same exercise, Freddie might have this experience:

  • A story that your company has written
    • Knowledge of what your company cares about
  • Some details about why it’s important
    • An understanding of the importance of the event that has sparked the content piece
  • Links to other stories
    • An understanding of the context of this piece
  • Links to particular case studies that are relevant to that blog
    • An understanding of the work your company does that’s more relevant to this piece

His experience and Alyssa’s are extremely different, but both can lead to website conversions. Charting and understanding what happens next is vital to gain a greater understanding of user journeys across your site.

 

Expectation vs Reality in Website User Journeys

 

When going through this exercise, you will often discuss the details of it internally with your colleagues and co-workers first. If you have the time, we would encourage you to conduct surveys with real users to help you understand whether your expectations of these journeys line up with the reality.

However, nothing can beat real data, and there are two key platforms that can help you with this most.

 

Two Useful User Journey Data & Analytics Tools

The first is Google Analytics. By setting up a user flow analysis in Google Analytics, you can understand the pages that users travel to most commonly and in which order. You can also see the pages on which they convert and the pages on which they exit. By doing this, you have a really good chance to validate or invalidate the assumptions you’ve made with your internal workshops.

 

 

The second tool is a behavioural mapping software such as Microsoft Clarity or Hotjar, which provide heatmaps and user recordings. This records user sessions on your website and helps you to understand where they’re clicking, the amount of scrolling they’re doing on each page, the extent to which they find the experience useful or frustrating, and where their mouse moves across the page. This also indicates whether they’re reading your content or simply scanning over it.

 

 

By combining these two data sources, you can continually reassess and reoptimise your user journeys to be more and more effective for your users. Doing this is important, as is keeping up to date with the latest web design trends, so that you can have an understanding of when it might be time to redesign your website.

 

Benefits of Effective User Journeys

User journey maps are a critical component of user research and website discovery. When looking to improve your public facing website, broader digital presence or e-commerce success, making your website more effective for users is a core component of this. 

Here are 4 key advantages of user journey mapping:

  • Identify customer pain points and communication gaps. For instance, you may find that there are too many steps in your purchasing process and reducing these barriers to conversion may increase your conversion rates.
  • Reduce costs on customer service by allowing users to find all the necessary information required via your website – for example in FAQ sections or via a chatbot.
  • Without effective journey mapping, it might be that you have visitors who still make a purchase, but may feel negative towards their experience. This could lead to bad reviews or negative customer advocacy. By mapping journeys, you can remove pain points and encourage user retention.
  • Increase customer engagement as you gain a better understanding of their feelings toward particular areas. If a particular feature on your website – for example a cost calculator – reliably gets users to engage effectively, provide opportunities to convert around that experience.

 

It is important to consider that the objective in mapping journeys is to paint a comprehensive picture. Get your team involved to assess and understand gaps from a user’s points of view. Getting many different opinions and inputs can also help to enhance the quality of the data that you obtain. Then, use this data to build out your website pages.

Download Our Free User Journeys Template

Mapping out user journeys should form part of your wider website strategy, and your digital agency should be able to guide you with this. But if you’re unsure where to start with that, download our website strategy template to help you get started.

 

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