Problem Framing: Re-Map Your Users’ Journey

Ward Andrews
By Ward Andrews
Cover Image for Problem Framing: Re-Map Your Users’ Journey

How many times have you found yourself creating a solution to a problem that didn’t exist?

A well-framed problem is the key to a successful solution. Even a slight adjustment in how you look at a problem can lead to a completely different outcome.

This is Part 3 in our series of posts sharing several of our tried and true methods for helping teams frame problems. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Refresh Your Solutions from a New Perspective

Think of a digital app or product you use every day. For most, this could be something like email or a calendar. Now think of the last time that app or product introduced a change in the user interface or experience that fundamentally affected how you use it.

Usually, if you can remember the change it was probably uncomfortable or frustrating. It forced you to learn something new or recalibrate where to find certain functionality or content.

We don’t notice changes to our everyday experiences because they’re so small and micro that they don’t register on our radar. When done well, a change to a product or service mimics this incremental change by anticipating how to make our lives better and easier almost without us even noticing it.

Most of the time, however, core functionality doesn’t ever change because product teams don’t know how (or are afraid to try) to improve an existing process. They fall into the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” trap, or they simply don’t have time to fix known problems because they’re too busy creating new features.

If your team is stuck trying to uncover ways to refresh your product experience, it may be time to revisit how your original problems have changed over time. This is where it can be helpful to update your old journey maps, service blueprints, and process maps (or build new ones).

Explore the actions, thoughts, and emotions internal and external users experience around your product or service today and compare it to how you understood that in the past. Update your vision of what a typical day looks like for them.

What do your most loyal and frequent users need? How have they devised their own shortcuts to get through a repetitive process faster? How would they feel if you introduced something that changed that shortcut for them?

Keep in mind it’s important to explore not only the user journey from Point A to Point B through a specific task but also how that task experience has changed through repetition. There may be things in that process they don’t want to change. Just because you think it’s a good solution to a problem doesn’t mean your users want to go through the frustration of changing their habits to fit your new feature.

Investing time to align on a refreshed mental model of the user journey can lead to better solutions for your most loyal users. It can also lead to solutions that are more inclusive for all users. You’re able to use the experience of established users to better anticipate how the needs of new users will evolve over time.

If you and your team are looking for ways to refine your user experience, we can help. Let’s talk about how to update your user journeys and build solutions that will evolve with user needs over time.