This is the fourth installation in our Experience Over Everything series.

Journey maps through a dimensional lens.

A journey map is a tool used to drive conversations and align people around current and future state experiences. We use them in product strategy to understand current processes and challenges, and to understand the desired future state solution to those challenges. In marketing, they are often used to identify critical moments in a customer’s journey where messaging, content, experiences, or interactions can be most impactful.

Once you’ve conducted research to understand the current and/or ideal future state, there are multiple journey map types you can use to drive conversations forward.

We’ll explore these journey maps through a dimensional lens. We experience our world in three dimensions and can choose to share those experiences visually with others in two dimensions or three. We can take photos or videos to share with others, where we provide a two-dimensional image and others make inferences on the third dimension by interpreting the images. We can also bring others with us to those places to experience them in person or capture those experiences in virtual reality or augmented reality to share the three-dimensional experience with them.

Length, width, and height. Forwards and backwards, side to side, and up and down. X, Y, and Z axes. Three dimensions depicted in different words and visuals.

We won’t be exploring journey maps as they relate to our physical world. Instead, we will explore the physical world in which journey maps exist.

We’ll explore the three journey map types that are commonly used in business and innovation today across three dimensions. From there, I’ll propose a new journey map type that will challenge us to go deeper in exploring and sharing experiences. This will help us plan better experiences for people that will make us more competitive in an era where experience is and should be prioritized over everything.

One-dimensional journey map

People often make journey maps one dimensional, along an x-axis; a single persona moving forward through a sequence of actions and events. This journey has a single start point and end point. It exists in isolation from other personas and other sequences of events.

JourneyMap OneDimensional

This works well for outlining a very specific process or a sequence of instructional steps, but not for depicting or sharing a customer’s journey.

Example: mapping the steps of a customer filling out a bank application online.

Two-dimensional journey map

Two dimensional journey maps provide more context. They enable the creation of multiple lanes for different personas (or the same persona) that extend along a y-axis. Two dimensional journey maps can illustrate multiple journeys and highlight where they intersect. They also enable you to depict onramps and offramps.

Journey Map Two Dimensional

This is the most commonly used journey map – the one we’re used to seeing the most.

Example: mapping the sequence of events for a customer filling out a bank application and a banker helping the customer through the process.

Three-dimensional journey map

Three dimensional journey maps enable you to go deeper by depicting the thoughts and emotions of the personas. They overlay empathy along a z-axis at specific moments on an individual persona’s journey.

JourneyMap ThreeDimensional

This axis provides an emotional arc for the journey which is helpful when designing experiences.

Example: mapping the experience (sequence of events + empathy) for a customer filling out a bank application and a banker helping the customer through the process.

Four-dimensional journey map

One dimensional journey maps focus on a single persona along a single path of a process. Two dimensional journey maps enable multiple personas and multiple paths in an experience. Three dimensional journey maps enable empathy overlays for each instance of the mapped experience.

Four dimensional journey maps enable you to extrapolate the three dimensional map’s structure in its entirety and use it for other experiences (often unrelated) that are running in parallel with or intersect those experiences.

JourneyMap ThreeDimensional

JourneyMap ThreeDimensional

Mapping these helps identify additional moments of truth based on proximity between journeys and points of intersection.

Example: mapping the experience (sequence of events + empathy) for a customer filling out a bank application and a banker helping the customer through the process, while also mapping the experience of the customer starting a new job (maybe even in a new city) and the banker being in the process of trying to earn a promotion.

In this example:

  • The customer may be applying for a local or regional bank in the new city
    • The banker may be able to be a local guide or resource to build the relationship
  • The customer may be interested in investing some of the new income
    • The banker may introduce additional products and services
  • The customer may feel isolated or alone in the new city
    • The banker may be able to make the customer feel welcome – remembering first name and other details
  • The customer may be reviewing their workplace benefits
    • The banker may be able to refer them to someone who can assist or offer alternatives
  • The banker may be energetic and assertive when helping the customer
    • The customer may feel confident in the banker and excited to open the account
  • The banker may provide provide a higher quality of service
    • The customer may feel more like a person than a number
  • The banker may feel pressured to process the customer quickly
    • The customer may feel rushed or uncomfortable
  • The banker may be hyper-focused on selling new products
    • The customer may feel like the banker is more of a salesperson than trusted resource

From theory to practice: empathy research in action.

I recently worked on an empathy research project alongside a few Method colleagues. The project was for a Fortune 500 clinical lab and diagnostics company. They wanted to understand customer sentiment on navigating and using their website.

We conducted contextual inquiry-style user interviews and observed people using the website. We also conducted ethnographic research by using the website ourselves and visiting the labs.

1D: From there, we were able to map the individual processes and sequences of events for patients, physicians, and lab professionals.

2D: We then mapped them together and identified where the journeys were connected.

3D: We added an empathy overlay to the journeys to understand what each person is thinking and feeling at different stages of the journeys.

4D: We mapped other journeys that the people were experiencing in parallel or that intersected. Lightly mapping these journeys helped identify critical moments where interactions with the website are most impactful.

This includes storylines such as:

  • Patients routinely dealing with a chronic medical condition
  • Patients worried that they might have STDs or infections
  • Patients who manage their own healthcare
  • Patients who manage their own healthcare and that of others
  • Physicians that have agreements with the lab where the lab is integrated into the process
  • Physicians that have to search for or identify labs on a case by case basis
  • Lab professionals conducting daily work in their own facilities
  • Lab professionals conducting daily work within a medical group facility or hospital

We discovered and explored these storylines through customer interviews. After mapping these parallel and perpendicular experiences, we provided our client with actionable insights (perspectives from new angles) on peoples’ website experiences that they could use to improve them.

So, what next?

Four dimensional journey mapping can be cumbersome work. In addition to the usual process of research and alignment to map the current and/or future state, you have to conduct additional research and alignment to know the right experiences to map in parallel (or that are perpendicular). The points of proximity or intersection unlock another level of solutioning that elevates the customer experience to a new level.

Start by mapping the current and future experiences for your customers or employees. Once you’re aligned internally on those things, align on additional experiences that run in parallel with or intersect those experiences.

It helps to have an experienced team execute or lead the journey mapping process, especially as more dimensions are added.

Contact Method if you need help designing exceptional experiences for your customers or employees. I’d love to have a conversation with you and introduce you to the Method team.