Let’s ask ourselves: “How do people find information about my Extension program? How do they find ways to participate?“ Plus the critical follow up: “How much do people like the interactions they have with my team?“
Doing Extension work well is based on the answers to these fundamental questions. The answers inform how we plan any of our outreach and communication efforts.
To reach answers to the questions, everyone on your team must understand the essence of the experiences your constituents have.
Journey mapping is an exercise we use to shed light on that.
Shine a bright light on any areas where your constituents’ feedback says they have a less-than-perfectly-delightful experience… and your team can make a plan to turn that around!
What is a Constituent Journey Map?
A journey map is a type of diagram. It’s a visual representation of an experience as viewed from the direct perspective of one constituent (or constituent group) with whom your Extension program interacts. The important piece is that everything in the diagram is meant to capture the experience of your constituents themselves. This is not about your program team’s perspective.
While journey maps come in many different forms, commonly it is represented as a timeline of all the touchpoints between a constituent and your program—i.e. what they see from outreach efforts, materials they read, places they go, and people with whom they talk. This timeline contains information about all channels your constituents use to interact with you.
A user journey map template. Image: NNGroup
What are the parts of a journey map?
A journey map facilitates analysis of a journey in elements like:
- Persona – what are the characteristics of an average program participant or constituent
- Stages — does the journey proceed through distinct phases of interaction?
- Incremental steps — such as those that help complete a specific process
- Touchpoints — how does the person come in contact with your program?
- Technology used (if any)
- Amount of effort — is the constituent passively receiving info or filling out a form (or other task), e.g.
What design problems do journey maps help us solve?
Primarily, the goal is to visualize how a constituent interacts with our services and allows program design to occur in a way that takes a constituent’s point of view into account. The approach leads to:
- Improved services to a specific audience
- Helping discover ways to align audience’s experience with your program’s strategic priorities
- Exploring potential problems that may have arisen in surveys or feedback
- Planning for a transition or change in direction
This fosters a constituent-centric approach to designing our efforts, which ultimately leads to a better experience for them.
Example of a completed constituent journey map
The seven steps to create a journey map
1. Choose scope
The scope of the constituent journey map can vary from the high level showing complete, end-to-end experience to a more detailed map focusing on one particular engagement—for example, registering for a workshop.
2. Create a persona
Who is your constituent? In constituent-centered design and communication planning, personas are profiles of fictional characters created to represent the different types of Oregonians that have similar service needs. A persona should be created based on information you have about your audience(s). Having solid information about an audience will help prevent making false assumptions.
Tips for creating a persona:
- Collaborate with team members who interact directly with this audience
- Look for commonalities and patterns among various individuals
- You may create multiple personas to represent different groups
- Base your persona characteristics on data you have collected
3. Define the constituent’s expectations
It is important to define what expectations the people in the specified audience may have about the interactions described in the journey map. For example, one scenario may be a person using a Google search to find information pertaining to a workshop. Here, the expectation may be that the workshop’s title will appear in the search results and the link will proceed to a page full of detailed information on the webpage.
Meaning that in some cases, the expectation is fairly simple and straightforward. In other cases, more complexity is involved. The key is to be on the lookout for where things get more complicated. This can lead you to the source of frustration—one of the pain points mentioned below—some will feel when they’re trying to complete a task.
4. List all the touchpoints
Touchpoints are actions taken by the constituent and also interactions they have with your program. It is important to identify all main touchpoints to establish as much empathy as possible for how, where, and when your constituents add to the perception they have of your program and how it communicates out into the world.
5. Take constituent intention into account
What motivates your constituents to engage with your program, to view online content, or to sign up for newsletters? Another way to look at this is to ask what specific problems are people hoping to solve when they decide to reach out to you online? Different segments of your audience will have different reasons for engaging.
Let’s use an average e-commerce website as an example. There is a difference between a shopper who is just browsing through many options and one who wants to arrive to the website to accomplish a specific purchase. The design choices on how to display information or options—such as a “buy now” button—would take the differences into account.
For each journey map, it’s vital to understand:
- Motivation – why are they trying to do it?
- Channels – where are interactions taking place
- Actions – the actual behaviors and steps taken by people
- Pain points – what challenges arise as people are trying to complete tasks
6. Create a first draft of your journey map
Mark Kindred will work with you, guiding the process of filling in the components of your team’s journey map. Or simply start building your own map. Try to account for all the timeline elements that you can related to your program. This can be a fun exercise, and the idea is the results will have a positive effect on all the various types of communications you have with your audiences.
7. Perform an assessment and refine the map
It is important to point out that journey maps should result in truthful narratives (or as close as you can get).
You should plan to use information from the Extension website’s content analytics dashboard as evidence that your journey map resembles real use cases. Gather and analyze information about your audiences on a regular basis. For example, participant feedback (do you send out online surveys?) is something that can be used to improve your team’s understanding of their experiences.
Your journey map assessment yields:
- Where are the opportunities to combine separate steps to produce a streamlined experience?
- Which steps represent pain points people experience and how might those be changed to improve the experience?
- Which steps require exerting the most effort and how might you reduce the effort?
- Where do people encounter a “moment of truth” type of event that makes or breaks their experience or leads to different outcomes (perhaps different than intended)?
The most critical thing to remember is that the goal here is to create a journey map that helps everyone share the same vision for your program.
You may start collecting the parts of the map today and share them with your team or colleagues who are familiar with the audience you’re serving. Let them weigh in and make it more and more accurate.
Make it possible for everyone on your team to examine the entire experience from the constituents’ point of view then leverage the information while designing various aspects of your program.
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