User journeys: an easy Omnigraffle stencil

During my course at GA London I struggled with user journeys. Not so much creating them, as documenting them. All the ones I had seen in my previous job were vast, detailed, beautiful things, around 3 metres in length when printed out. And while our course tutor encouraged us to sketch first, this is the example of a finished journey that she shared. Terrifying.

If you're new to user journeys, you might want to look at this article on creating journeys to understand your customers better.

I can line up boxes on slides perfectly well, but this kind of graphic artistry is beyond me. Lots of my fellow students were visual designers and added to the pressure with some lovely designs of their own. For my first user journey presentation, I gave up trying and used a scan of my original sketch, with some speech bubbles on top. 

Actually, this worked fine as a way to make the points I wanted to make, about the experience I was designing. If you’ve ever tried to present a user journey you’ll know that the 3 metre version is illegible on a slide. You can do clever things in InDesign to tackle this problem, but it seems a waste of effort for something that's on screen for about two minutes.

This article is quite keen on the idea of making a digital journey so you can "polish it, leverage it in your work and share it with colleagues across the organization" The article suggests "collaborating closely with a visual designer who can transform the journey map sketch into an impressive artefact." I'm not convinced. I've worked in studios where there are tonnes of impressive artefacts pinned on the walls. The first week or so your work attracts attention, but after a while it's just fancy wallpaper. 

I generally do like to get my user journey sketches into digital format: so everyone can read my writing or so I can easily change it later. I had a scout around Google, and couldn't find anything I liked, to I made my own Omnigraffle stencil:

The circles mark events or interactions on the customer journey. The text below describes the interaction, and the speech bubble above is for the user's thoughts and feelings. The  path between the interactions shows the highs and lows and general trend. These are just bezier curves so I can move them around to make a nice path once I'm happy with where the interactions are. 

Some journeys also include channel information. I haven't felt a need for that yet, but I'd just use colour coding if I needed to distinguish interactions on different channels.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to have this dilemma. What are you using to get your user journeys into digital form?