Journey mapping is essential

jouneymap_finalA journey map is a visual representation of the experience the user has with a product or service. It tells a story from the user’s point of view from initial engagement and continues throughout their journey. In order to understand a user’s experience, you need to observe how the user interacts with the many different starting points within the product or service.

For example, this can be through marketing, referrals, search, social media and customer service to name a few. To ensure the experience is a positive one, you need to map out every touchpoint along their journey.

Why create a journey map?

Journey mapping helps you see the business from the user’s perspective. It provides insights into user pain points — how you can improve the experience, and define what users need in order to complete an experience. Users expect companies to be connected and seamless; while also knowing who they are and what they’re looking for. They don’t want to take extra steps to get to their goal. A journey map will help find the cracks in order to create a solution for a better user experience.

Some of the benefits of a journey map may include:

  • observe where users interact
  • determine whether the user journey is in a logical order
  • provide an outside perspective on the why
  • reveal the gaps between the desired experience and the experience received
  • help create priorities for product strategy
  • afford you the opportunity to view from the user’s needs rather than the business needs

Making it worthwhile

For a useful map, you need to include every touch point the user experiences within the product. For example, when a user is planning a vacation, you will need to begin from the moment they start thinking about possibilities right through to finally booking their vacation. Each touch point is an interaction with a product or service. By following along the journey, you will be able to see where users experience pain points.

Key elements to include:

  • Journey
  • User profile
  • Actions & Channels
  • Emotions
  • Actions
  • Opportunities
  • Ownership

As your relationship with the user develops, the map will include a view of the long-term, post purchase journey. Looking at the completed journeys of users can help highlight whether there is a clear path from research to end product or service. This shows the potential obstacles and opportunities to improve the journey.

The Importance of Using Ideation


Ideation is the creative way of coming up with new ideas, which is accomplished through several different ideation techniques. Ideation will help determine the right problem to solve and how to solve it.

UX designers are responsible for solving real user problems. To do this, they need to empathize with their users, understand their needs, and come up with creative, innovative solutions. Ideation will help you generate fresh ideas as part of the Design Thinking process. Ideation sessions will encourage you to think outside the box, and explore ideas you may not have thought of otherwise.

As a designer, the ideation phase is your safe space where you can come up with ideas that may be unconventional and may lead to other ideas which could enhance a solution.  It doesn’t matter if these ideas turn out to be plausible or not; what’s important is that you look beyond the obvious, already-been-done solutions. Ideation sessions will also help you to focus on your users by collecting the perspectives and creativity of a group of people, gathering a large diversity of ideas; and ultimately, to innovate in ways that you never thought possible.

Ideation is an important part in the design thinking process. The goal is to empathize with the users to learn the pain points they’re experiencing as well as understand how needs of the users are not currently being met. Often the solution lies buried within the information gaps. It’s not about what the company sees to be the problems but discovering how to engage with users to understand their frustrations and needs.

By testing and implementing ideation techniques, you can be more effective solving the right problem. It is not a linear process. Some ideas may prove to be implausible taking you back to defining the problem — and that’s ok. When it comes to the ideation phase, just remember to have fun, experiment with different techniques, and never be afraid to think outside the box.




Point of View (POV) statement

[User . . . (descriptive)] needs [need . . . (verb)] because [insight. . . (compelling)]

A Point of View (POV) is an articulation of the problem that you are trying to improve for the end user. It should be well defined in order to allow for a thoughtful reflection or ideation to meet your goal. Your POV encompasses your design vision by defining the chall­enge to address and overcome. Your POV should be an actionable problem statement that will drive the rest of your design work.

To put together a POV statement, you use three components – user, need, and insight. To communicate your POV statement, you will begin by understanding information about your user, the needs and your insights in the following sentence:

[User . . . (descriptive)] needs [need . . . (verb)] because [insight. . . (compelling)]

The POV is a problem statement which should drive your design efforts in which you incorporate into the design the needs and requirements of the user in order to create the best user experience. By creating an actionable design problem statement, you will be able to inspire the generation of ideas to solve the problem.

Venmo app review example

The Venmo app allows users to pay or request money. Some examples of when the app would be used are:

  • Splitting a lunch bill
  • Paying your friend half of a cab fare
  • Sending your roommate your half of the rent
  • Using Venmo as a payment method in some apps

When reviewing Venmo, I was able to identified three user reviews: one as positive, one as negative and one as suggestive. These user reviews identified problems and challenges from a user’s point of view which were then included into the POV statement.

The POV statement is:

USERS of Venmo NEED a safe application to send/receive money which provides user feedback on transfer status and excellent customer support BECAUSE in this fast-paced world, being able to securely and quickly pay for services/items is important.

In short, the POV statement is the focus of the UX designer’s problem-solving efforts and will inform all the decisions made throughout the design process.


Creating personas


Personas represent users whose goals and characteristics reflect the needs of a larger group of users. The descriptions include behaviors, goals, skills, attitudes, and background information, as well as the environment. Designers will typically create fictional details to make the persona a realistic character. Deep understanding of a target audience is important to creating functional user experiences and products. Personas help find answers to the questions: for who and why you are designing this. With this information you can better understand the expectations and motivations of the users, creating a successful user experience and product.

A persona should include the following:

  • Persona name
  • Photo
  • Role
  • Quote/demographic
  • Motivation & behavior – goals & journey
  • Motivation, inhibitors and triggers
  • Influencers
  • Environment
  • Similar personas

Personas need to then be associated with a scenario that describes how a user will interact with a product to achieve its end goal. The scenario will help designers understand the main user flows – by pairing the personas with the scenarios; designers gather requirements, and from those requirements, they create solutions. Scenarios should be written from the persona’s perspective, usually at a high level, and articulate use cases that will likely happen.

Personas are an important tool in making the design process about the user. They are part of the ideation process and assist the designers in achieving a good user experience. Personas help the designers be mindful of how the user will interact with every touch point and as a result deliver a high quality product. Personas are another tool to use in creating the best user experience possible.


Why User Empathy is Important to Design


The general definition of empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. When you empathize with the users of a product or website, you see things from their point of view and not just through your own perspective. Through empathy, you begin to understand that not everyone comprehends the product or service.

Empathy maps are a great way to assess what users are thinking and feeling when they are using a product or service. They help build a broader understanding of what’s behind user needs and actions. This knowledge will help you anticipate how a user might approach a website.

Sections of an Empathy map include the following:

  • Tasks – What tasks are users trying to complete? What questions do they need answered?
  • Feelings – How is the user feeling about the experience? What matters to them?
  • Influences – What people, things or places may influence how the user acts?
  • Pain points – What pain points might the user be experiencing that they hope to overcome?
  • Goals – What is the user’s ultimate goal? What are they trying to achieve?

User empathy research is the process of developing an understanding of the user. It’s not just about their needs but understanding their constraints, practices, problem-solving and influencing relationships. Researching users is a way to help designers identify their users’ underlying needs. Once the need is established, the user experience can be created with new problem-solving approaches that accommodate the user. The ultimate goal is to improve the user’s experience by designing to their explicit needs.

The need for empathy in design is an important factor as the beginning of User Experience. We must develop an understanding of how to design products that appeal to people of different cultures, variety of backgrounds and social influences. Through user empathy, we can begin to understand how and why users interact, feel and solve issues that relate to the product and website.

UI and UX – Understanding the Differences

ux-verses-ui copyUI design is how the website looks; UX is how the website works.
UI is a deliverable; UX design is a process.

UI Design stands for User Interface Design and UX Design is the User Experience Design. Both design elements are critical to the success of a website and work seamlessly together. Although they work closely together, they have very different roles in the process. UX design is very analytical and technical while UI design is the graphic design  presentation – how it looks and feels.

“User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are some of the most confused and misused terms in our field. A UI without UX is like a painter slapping paint onto canvas without thought; while UX without UI is like the frame of a sculpture with no paper mache on it. A great product experience starts with UX followed by UI. Both are essential for the product’s success.” –  Rahul Varshney, co-creator of

User Interface design

UI is a combination of content such as text, forms, images and the behavior of the user. The content is not just the body of content; it also consists of button, labels, drop downs and overall graphic design. The behavior is what happens when the user clicks, types or drags within the site.

UI refers to the actual interface of a product, the visual design of the screens a user navigates through when using a mobile app, or the buttons they click when browsing a website. UI design is all the visual and interactive elements of a product interface, from typography and color palettes to animations and navigation buttons. The UI designer will take the product development, research, content and layout, and make them into a beautiful responsive experience for the users.

User Experience Design

The UX role is that of a marketer, designer and project manager. The role is multi-faceted, connecting the user’s needs to the business goals. The UX designer strives to make products, services and technology user-friendly. They will use design thinking to find the best solution to the user’s needs and determine what is technically doable while meeting the business needs.

To begin, the UX designer will conduct research and competitor analysis to fully understand the challenge. Goals, emotions, pain-points and behaviors are gathered to identify the user.  The next step is to establish the journey the user will take for the product. The designer will now look at the information architecture to map out the user flows, create wireframes and prototypes of the final product.

Working together

UX and UI go hand-in-hand. The design of the product interface has a huge impact on the overall user experience. Designing the best user experience is key to gaining complete customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.


Design thinking


Design thinking is a framework used to better understand the audience and to meet the customer’s needs. The design thinking process involves 5 steps which include: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. This process leads the design team through a series of steps which are utilized to better understand the audience on a deeper level in order to find solutions to their needs and uncover any problems that the customer might not realize they need assistance with.

“Design-thinking firms stand apart in their willingness to engage in the task of continuously redesigning their business…to create advances in both innovation and efficiency—the combination that produces the most powerful competitive edge.”
—Roger Martin, author of the Design of Business

Human-centered innovation

Human-centered innovation is the deep understanding of the customers’ or users’ needs whether they have been unmet or have not been articulated by the client. If you are able to find solutions to needs that have not been articulated, you are able to far exceed the customers expectations and bring value to their product or service. Design thinking minimizes the uncertainty and risk of innovation by engaging customers’ or users through a series of prototypes in order to learn, test, and refine concepts. Design thinkers rely on customer insights gained from real-world experiments.

Crash Course in Design Thinking

In this week’s assignment we were partnered up with each other and asked to view the Virtual Crash Course Video together as we filled out the corresponding worksheet. During the 90-minute video we participated in the Gift-Giving Project. We were asked to identify the needs and develop a solution to redesign the gift-giving experience for our partner.

The assignment consisted of us asking each other about a recent gift we had given and finding a way to take that gift giving up a notch. In order to find the best gift solution, we had to ask questions, sketch an idea, and design a prototype from craft supplies in just a few minutes. The assignment moved me out of my comfort zone and required me to think outside of the box for a creative solution. I found it exciting and it left me wanting to ask more to better understand the audience. Reflecting back on the assignment, I wish I had asked more questions to understand the audience and gift giver on a deeper level.

Course Reflection – Web Technologies

I am so thankful for this term and Professor Akselsen. I have had years of learning, digital experience in manipulating existing HTML within a CMS or email template – but I have never been able to read the matrix until now. This course content and the style of presenting it have given me the basic HTML knowledge to understand what story the code is going to tell instead of scanning for words like image or color to make a small change. I went from having no idea how to start a page – to building a basic layout and manipulating a template to fit my needs of displaying family photos.


There are many skills that I am able to take away from this course. I had some previous knowledge but learned so many new things along the way to help refine my existing skills. We reviewed several important topics extensively. It is amazing how much we have learned in a short about of time. These topics included:

  • Customization
  • Establishing online presence
  • Color palettes, site maps and wire framing
  • Responsive design
  • CMS and FTP
  • Optimization
  • Website traffic
  • Cross browser and compatibility testing
  • Google analytics
  • HTML/CSS templates

Responsive design is the beginning

Whether you are the designer or  “do-it-yourselfer” using a template to create your site, basic understanding of how a site will be built is important. A successful site is the marriage of both design and code, each depending on one another to create a seamless experience. While designing, you have to envision each user experience and how your design/content will be displayed. If you chose to create your site with a template, many hosting sites contain templates which are responsive and easy to use. These pre-programmed templates will help save time and money as you develop your design.

Content is the driver

Content plays an important role in driving traffic to your website. Content has many purposes like describing products on ecommerce sites, educating on sites like Wikipedia, entertaining on sites like YouTube, and socializing on sites like Facebook or Instagram. With millions of sites available today, content creators have to find creative ways to drive traffic to their sites.

Testing can make you unstoppable

There are so many browsers available, which are viewed on all types of devices and on various screen sizes.  It is, therefore, essential that you perform testing on how the user will experience your site in each of these environments. Each browser handles the information it processes from the server in its own unique way. Testing your site on one browser is not enough; you need to view the user experience across several different browsers, devices, and screen sizes. Cross Browser testing involves testing both the client side and server-side behavior of your site, when it is accessed using different browsers. Through this testing you will ensure that your site displays properly regardless of which browser is used.

Cross browser and compatibility testing should be part of the initial site development and be a step that is revisited periodically.

Free tools are at your fingertips

Google Analytics is a free website analytics service offered by Google; it provides data and insight into how users find and use your website. You can also track ROI for your online marketing strategy. This website can help you view your visitors’ behaviors through your account dashboard.

Google Analytics helps you make decisions based on data. You can justify spending more on your advertising; decide where you should be advertising; and what type of content you should be exploring to add to your site. Google Analytics categorizes data into three main buckets Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions.

We are in this together

Designers, coders and savvy internet users will all benefit from the basic understanding of how each phase works together. Both design and code need to build upon each other in order to have a final product that will create a beautifully built user experience. In this new responsive design environment, all sides need to understand each phase of a site’s growth. Together we will create a beautiful internet experience.

Website design using templates

If you possess some basic HTML knowledge, you can easily build a fully functional website by using free templates. Templates expedite setting up a new website, and they do allow some customization to fit your needs. Some templates will be very simple and clean in their design, while other templates will offer advanced design and code options. Using these templates you can save a lot of time; because the creative design, layout and foundation HTML is already in place.

Templates are ready-made, and can be easily edited allowing you to instantly create a website. This saves money since you will not need a designer; and can be completed in a time frame that you decide upon. There are a lot of sites that offer free templates with amazing designs. I used W3 School for a responsive website template. You are able to use their templates without any restrictions and they have a large array of design options to choose from.

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How to get started

Once you have picked your template, you can play around with it on W3School to see if it fits your needs. Once you are satisfied, copy the HTML and paste it into your HTML editor of choice. Some common editors are DreamWeaver, FrontPage, or Web Express. The images that you use to replace what is in the template can be edited in a few different image applications such as PaintShop Pro, Gimp, or PhotoShop. I use DreamWeaver for my HTML editing and PhotoShop for my image editing. Some templates will also use CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to control and standardize things like font sizes and colors across all your pages. These CSS files can also be edited using a CSS editor such as DreamWeaver.

Once your HTML is ready, you can upload it to your server. Congratulations, you now have a fully functional website!


Understanding Google Analytics

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Google Analytics is a free website analytics service offered by Google; it provides data and insight into how users find and use your website. You can also track ROI for your online marketing strategy. This website can help you view your visitors’ behaviors through your account dashboard.

Another feature is that you are able to add Google analytical tools such as Ads Account and Search Console. You can additionally add tracking codes; which allow you to closely monitor the success of any advertising, social, or PR campaign. To get this started, you need to install “tracking code” on each page of your website.

Tools and features

There are many features you can utilize within Google Analytics such as:

  • Data visualization tools including: a dashboard, scorecards and charts to display changes in data.
  • Segmentation for analysis, such as conversions.
  • Customized reports.
  • Email-based sharing.
  • Integration with additional Google resources, such as AdWords and Website Optimizer.

Google Analytics helps you make decisions based on data. You can justify spending more on your advertising; decide where you should be advertising; and what type of content you should be exploring to add to your site. Google Analytics categorizes data into three main buckets:

  • Acquisition
  • Behavior
  • Conversions


Acquisition is the website traffic. The acquisition reports show you how traffic is getting to your site. The overview tab provides you a view of acquisition, behavior, and conversion data for your top traffic sources by channel (referral, direct, organic search, and social). This information displays the number of sessions acquired, the bounce rate, and their conversions. The acquisition report is the best tool to use in order to evaluate what is working well in driving traffic to your site, and how best to maximize the traffic.


The Behavior reports show the performance of your website, and what your visitors are doing as they move around your site. You are able to assess the performance of your website content and determine if changes need to be made in order to change the behavior of the site’s visitors. Under the overview within the behavior tab, you will see a graph showing the amount of traffic during a specific period of time.

Additionally, you will see page views, unique page views, average time on page, bounce rate metrics, and percent exit metrics. These metrics show how a user interacted with your website page.


A conversion takes place when a visitor to your site takes an action that converts them to a customer. Examples of this could be: filling out a form, purchasing, or becoming more involved with your site. You will need to use the Google Analytics URL Builder to tag your URLs with custom campaign tracking parameters, and then set up a goal within Google analytics. Google Analytics can now create easy-to-read reports that reveal your campaign’s performance.