Mapping experiences is a broad set of activities that engage others. Though often focused on heavy, upfront research and hi-fidelity visualizations, these need not be the case. The benefits of mapping can be realized in a short period of time—about one to two weeks in total duration.
A key thing to remember is that creating a diagram is not about artistic talent. It’s also not about painstaking, drawn-out investigation. Rather, it’s about creating a visualization that breaks organizational silos and aligns teams around a common view of the experience.
Just consider this simple map of an experience for going to Starbucks created by Eric Berkman, a design strategist and author of Designing Mobile Interfaces (O’Reilly, 2011). It’s visually minimal, but reveals key insights about both negative and positive service aspects at a Starbucks coffee shop.
Simple but very effective!
The key is to focus on the verb mapping rather than the noun map. The journey is as important—if not more so—than the destination. It’s better that your team has the same perspective and the same basis for decision making than having a good-looking diagram. And that can be accomplished quickly.
A General Process for Mapping
In Mapping Experiences, I outline four modes of activity for a mapping process:
The table below summarizes the time to complete each rapidly.
|Initiate||1 hour to 1 day||Ensure the effort is relevant to the organization|
|Investigate||1 to 4 days||Ground the effort in reality with research and feedback from real people|
|Illustrate||.5 to 3 days||Visualize the experience for the whole organization to see|
|Align and Envision||1 to 4 days||Foster conversations and activities around the experience to come up with solutions|
|Total||1 week to 2 weeks|
The key is to focus on the objective of each of the stages and get to “done” quickly. Again, it’s about fostering the right, user-centered conversations with a team.