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Whole user journey mapping

How can we gain a collective understanding of how our services are serving our users?

The portal services team want to understand “whole user journeys” across the student lifecycle. This is inspired by previous work undertaken by our user research team, and a recent blog series from the Government Digital Service.

Five lessons from user journeys 

We want to know whether our services are performing well for our users. Through both user testing and analytics, we can gain an idea of how well existing parts of our service are operating.

But how can we identify gaps in our provision (what don’t we do, that we should?); and how can we ensure that our services are working well with other University services (how does the MyEd portal fit into users’ wider interactions with the University?).


We want to gain collective understanding of:

  • our users: where we fit in their lives, and where we are not serving them well
  • how transparency about what we’re doing can help us communicate
  • what our stakeholders want so that our goals (and roadmap) can be interrogated
  • the greatest value we can add in future research and development
  • how our existing research fits into a holistic overview, where we need to narrow down our research, and where sharing our knowledge can streamline further research


As a team, we considered what output would help us achieve these aims.

UX Mapping Methods Compared – Nielsen Norman Group

Although we want to grow our output organically (we’ll let the resources we uncover shape the final output), our feeling is that the ‘experience map’ is closest to what we need.

We’ll base our work on existing concepts of the student lifecycle, as we know this is what our core business understands. We’d like to include empathy mapping into the result, so that we can get common prioritisation of the most pressing user needs.

A combined lifecycle that refers to our existing knowledge will help us be transparent: like a Wikipedia page, if we’re open about what we know (and link to that information), we’re going to be forced to address what we do not know (because we can’t cite evidence for it).

What’s next?

We’re going to identify existing resources:

  • current visualisations of the student lifecycle that identify the main tasks or triggers that prompt users to visit our services
  • information about our services (user research, analytics studies, survey and query data)

We’re also going to experiment with some visualisations to attempt to identify what our output will look like. Our output needs to be quickly and easily understandable, but also flexible enough to work for us to adapt in future as we learn more.

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