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What is the “user journey” through your website?

diagram of user journey concept in web design

User journey is an important web design concept. Its simplest expression is the steps a user takes through your website. From where users arrive on your website, to the pages they look at, to where they leave. It is an effective visualisation tool for what your users might do on your website.

These user journeys can be successful or unsuccessful for your organization. A successful user journey can have many forms. The most obvious might be a product sale. Other good outcomes include users finding the information they want or using your contact form.

Together we have a responsibility to help the user with that journey. We need to make it easy; we need to make it obvious.

It is in everyone’s best interest.

What differentiates a good user journey? It is one that feels smooth, effortless, and ultimately fruitful. To help make this happen we need to guide the user. That means designing easy to spot buttons, clear headings, and structured content.

Navigational elements and aids like buttons are critical but are very much the actionable end of this topic. In practice we begin with rather more abstracted discussion. This is about website architecture! We need to build the simplest expression of your content; the one that is most readily understood by your audience. To build this we first need an understanding of your business and then your customers. Meaningful consultation is critical. Once we have an understanding, we will pitch an architecture for the website. This architecture will map the pages and categories the website will have, that we believe will be most effective. This architecture forms the basis of the potential journeys a user can take through your site. The deliverable is your main menu content, and deep content sitemap. We will discuss Information Architecture in depth in another post.

Only once we have that sitemap, we are best placed to guide users through it in a meaningful way.

User testing is particularly good at picking up whether our design is working well. In user testing we set test users tasks on the website. There is a problem if users cannot complete those tasks. Users might describe feeling lost or unable to find what they were looking for. It is user journey that we need to pay attention to.

We can measure our success using tracking once your website is launched. Tracking will show us the path news is take out the website and whether it matches with our expectations and testing.

We do not like using buzzwords. Any web jargon is a barrier between you and us. That said, some phrases neatly encapsulate important concepts. We will use them but define them. User journeys are important to your organisation!