Understanding the user journey

Designing tools which neither reflect nor understand the user’s experience or journey is a foolish waste of time.

In the Legal Creatives Academy, I was set a challenge to design a legal tool. I decided to map the payment aspects of a building project for a home-owner. I immediately drew on my clients’ experiences with B2B ie corporate clients and sophisticated contractors who may have worked together on multiple projects etc etc <yawn>.

I have had a building work done on my own home, although it turns out I am not the best person to describe the journey! So I interviewed friends and contacts who had recently ‘got the builders in’ and I realised how little I knew.

Mapping the journey (see image) was critical to deciding the sort of tool that might help reduce the (unwelcome) surprises that many home-owners experience. Their pains reflected:

  • their lack of certainty over the cost of the completed project – not being kept up-to-date with changes and extras, and not getting breakdowns of invoices so not being able to work out what has been done for the price paid
  • the unclear payment process – some never knew when to expect an invoice, possibly for thousands of pounds, often accompanied by a gruff demand for immediate payment
  • not knowing the trigger for the final payment – did the builder mean it when it said they would only have to pay when they were completely satisfied or would it be when the builder was running out of cash to pay its trades?

This created a whole raft of negative emotions: feeling stressed, bullied or blackmailed over money; feeling like they were being taken advantage of or naive; disappointed or distrusting of the initial price or thinking that they were paying over the odds; lastly relief when it was all over and they could forget the whole sorry process…


Clearly the construction industry needs to ensure its clients are on the happy side of this journey map.

I will be continuing my challenge to create a tool to help make their experiences full of only happy surprises. Watch this space!

What should you do?

If you are not sure whether your clients are happy with their experience of working with you, why not ask them to tell you about the process/task/project from their perspective. It can help you empathise better as well as develop tools, processes and clarity which will lead to better success.

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