20 Oct 2022
3 min read
Exploring Future-State Journey Maps
Future-state journey maps are a powerful tool which can help inform teams about opportunities for the future. Here we consider how they can be utilised to effectively plot the path to future success for a product or service.
Here at Nomat, we are unabashed data nerds. Like most UX researchers, the analysis and synthesis of our research data is often our favourite part of the project. But while a wall of brightly coloured Post-Its (either real or virtual) might make our data-loving hearts swell with pride, bringing those insights into a more palatable form can take some creativity.
When considering our final client deliverable, a future-state journey map is sometimes the most effective way to visually communicate with stakeholders. We looked into customer journey maps in a previous blog, so let’s build on that knowledge to discover the next iteration.
Where did these maps first originate?
More than 30 years ago, Chip Bell and Ron Zemke created the first customer journey map after exploring why a telephone company had received a sudden slew of irate customer calls. They used focus groups to collect individual customer experiences and presented them back to the company by plastering them (in sequence) on the boardroom walls. The company was stunned, and customer journey mapping was born.
Current-State vs Future-State?
The name really gives it away - current-state maps are based on the now, drawing from the end-to-end experiences of our existing users. Alternatively, future-state maps kick it up a notch, using strategic thinking to look forward and propose the best user touchpoints.
This doesn’t mean that the current-state maps are rendered obsolete. In fact, a good future-state map is usually predicated on a thorough understanding of the current state. Put simply, you have to understand your current user pain points and motivations, to consider where they may be positioned further down the track.
According to Nielsen Norman Group, the most effective future-state journey maps contain an optimistic ‘North-Star vision’ for an organisation. Providing this shared vision allows a group to effectively plot the path to future success while maintaining a sense of pragmatism about current roadblocks.
How can we make this map more human?
We know that our users are so much more than just the data points they provide. They have complex emotional journeys that deserve to be represented. By enriching our future-state journey map with individual user experiences, we give our audience a peek into the mindset of different personas. Nomat has three key ways to dial up the ‘human-ness’ of our future-state maps.
Firstly, we pull verbatim quotes from our research interviews, to give a voice to our participants. The natural language of these quotes helps our audience to align with key themes on the map.
Additionally, we use simple cartoons to provide cues for visual learners, which also adds levity to text-rich environments. These illustrations allow the map to feel more approachable, and can even engage a new audience.
Finally, we use bursts of colour in a strategic way, while also considering contrast levels for accessibility purposes. Colour provides a visual language that can communicate critical messaging such as hierarchy.
Read the room
Future-state journey maps can never be a one-size-fits-all approach. Our clients can be at all levels of tech-maturity, and we always want to present the best possible solution, in an easily digestible way. By carefully tailoring the deliverable, we can ensure that our projects always leave a lasting impression.
How have you used journey maps to approach a client project?
Designer and Researcher
Eliza has a passion for investigative research and Human Centred Design with more than five years experience. She has a keen interest in applying Service Design to Health Care with a view of achieving improved outcomes for patients and staff. Eliza has strong communication skills, particularly when writing for the web. She is empathetic, collaborative and endlessly curious, and brings her enthusiasm for good design to every project.
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