Consider Company A. It’s been around for more than half a century. Its website, though not quite that old, has also been around for quite some time now. Yet few people know about the company. Fewer still have visited the website. How in the world can they possibly be found?
As always, it’s about the content. The content is old, created over 10 years ago. And the company’s current subject matter experts don’t have a great deal of time to sit down and rework the existing content.
They saw what a website could do for them and started to see leads coming in. Until they began to see, they didn’t know “everyone” in the industry. And they soon began to witness form submissions and other leads via the website, proving that tried and true content strategies can – and do – work.
And Company A? That’s Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company, where I’m a web designer. When we began this journey three short years ago we had less than 50 leads coming in through the website annually. Today, we are garnering over 650.
Now that may not seem like a great deal, this is a very niche company, an aerospace and defense company venturing into the commercialization of space (think outer space, deep space), oil and gas, and law enforcement. Every product is custom, and there is no “off the shelf” version. We are strictly a lead generation site for a small universe of players.
As a web designer, I’ve had a front row seat to how we got there – and how a user journey map played an integral role in the process.
The first focus was on a content audit, what content we had and what was missing. The second, on basic SEO strategies for the content (keywords, meta descriptions, images with alt tags, etc.).Then, we had to shift the focus, from us to the customer.
We needed to know our users: their pain points, their moments of truth, their feelings and aspirations about our website and our products. We needed to make it easy for them to fill out a form and we needed to know what steps they take to do so.
Once we had this information, we could remove the pain points, facilitate more aha! moments, and make it as easy as possible for them to achieve their goals.
But most of all, we needed to answer the question: Have we created an intuitive and natural user experience?
The best tool with which to do this is a user journey map. It may be your goal to have users complete an action: fill out a form (consider using a dedicated form creator), subscribe to a newsletter, or buy a product. But remember, it’s the user’s path – essentially, how they get to wherever they’re going on your site – that really matters. It’s our job to fulfill their need and make that path as seamless as possible. A user journey map is a visualization of that path.
For argument’s sake, let’s say we continue without a user journey map. What will we be missing?
For a lead generation company, it’s simple: more conversions. For an e-commerce site, more sales. For a software or app developer, more downloads.
While this may seem a bit dramatic, the truth is, without a user journey map, we will never:
A user journey map is one of the essential instruments a content strategist can use to present vital storytelling and visualizations of the user’s experience.
Displaying the information in this way not only leaves a succinct and significant impression, but also communicates content gaps, content needs, and types of content – all while creating a shared vision among all the stakeholders.
In the second and final installment of this series, we’ll cover how to build a user journey map. Check back next week for Part 2!
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