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Mapping out the User Experience (Strategic Design Part 3)

January 19th, 2012 Josh Olson Josh Olson


Back to Languages.

So we are describing the process of strategic design, in which we figure out the company’s goals, the user’s goals, and the intersection of the two. The purpose of this is to create an app that exists at that point of intersection. First, we established Tapity’s goals for the Languages app. Then we developed user “personas”—fictional users with concrete characteristics. Now we can move on to the next step of strategic design: user experience mapping.

Now that we have our personas, we need to map out their current experience without an app. This helps us create an app that is tailored to the user’s actual experience. Those who skip this step risk creating a list of features that sound helpful in the abstract, but are not helpful to users in their actual experience.

First, we need to decide what the major experience domains are. An experience domain is simply an area or realm of experience. In the case of Languages, we decided that they were (1) “solo,” (2) social, and (3) travel. Solo involves any linguistic situation in which it is just you and the language; reading a foreign book, for example. Social encompasses any situation involving discourse between you and someone else. And travel explains itself.

We put a big sheet of paper up on our Tapity-blue wall and then demarcate the three domains. We then place our personas on the far left of the paper. Now we’re all ready to map our our personas’ experiences across the three domains.


We first turn to Emily, our student, and analyze her solo experience. She studies French. So we decide that she (1) looks up French words for her workbook exercises, (2) looks up words for writing essays in French, (3) looks up words while reading Les Misrables, and (4) uses a physical French-English dictionary. We put up stickies with drawings to represent all of this.


We then repeat this process for all of our personas across every domain. We try to cover all possible experiences in order to get the fullest possible picture of what we’re dealing with. The wall gradually fills with stickies.


Now the appless user experience is storyboarded.

Next time, if our app could do anything, how could it produce an ideal user experience?

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