The most common question I probably get is when to use which mapping method and when mapping methods are really helpful. They help a line of team, they help create a visual representation of all of our different mental models. But there’s a lot of them out there and they’re often confused. I’m going to run through four that are commonly used, what their defining characteristics are and when to use them.
The first being an empathy map and empathy map is divided into four quadrants. Says thinks does feels. It helps us get into the user’s mindset. Who are they and what drives them? Second, our customer journey maps. They create a narrative of what our user is going through as they interact with our product or service. They can lead to insights of where the pains are, what delights them next. As experience maps now, experience maps are often confused with customer journey maps, and that’s because they are generally very, very similar. The only primary distinction is that experience maps are not affiliated with a specific product or service. Rather, they highlight a general human behavior like childhood development or pregnancy. And then last but not least, a service blueprint.
Think about service blueprinted as a part two to customer journey maps. They highlight what the employees have to do in order to produce that customer journey. Regardless of what mapping method you’re using, there are always three decisions you have to make before you begin. The first is, are you mapping current state? What happens today or to be what you want to happen in the future? Second, are you basing it on a hypothesis, assumptions that you’ll then go and validate, or are you basing it into research that you’ve gathered from field studies or surveys? And then third, what fidelity are you going to be working in? Is it important to have a really polished artifact or can it be low fidelity with Post-it on a wall? The benefits from any kind of mapping activity are twofold. First, it forces conversation. It makes everyone align on one mental model that is quite literally up on the wall.
The second is that it creates a shared artifact that shared artifact can then be distributed or used to communicate what your team has aligned on. Regardless of what map you use, it should act as a single point of truth as your team continues to move forward.
UX Portfolios Preparing for Interviews
If you’re in the market for a new job, there’s a good chance you’ll need to have a portfolio showcasing your past projects and skills. Hiring managers will typically do a quick walk through of your portfolio before deciding if they want to bring you in person or talk on the phone for an interview.
Because of this, you’ll want to make sure the information you display is enough for someone to understand the project and your contributions to it, while leaving enough room for you to elaborate in an interview. A good U.S. portfolio will follow a case study structure with high level details about the project, a breakdown of activities you facilitated, and screenshots are photos of final designs, research plans or other artifacts you created throughout the process. With that in mind, let’s talk about some do’s and don’ts. First, don’t go overboard with details in the portfolio you send out when you apply for the job, including too much detail will have a hiring manager scrolling right past important information. Save the specific details for when you can talk directly with someone. When you get to the interview stage, don’t just give a tour of your portfolio. Don’t talk someone through what they can see in front of them or what they’ve already seen when they screen your application.
Now is the time that hiring managers want to hear what went on behind the scenes. Pick one or two things from your top projects that you can talk about in detail. Maybe in one project you tried out a new technique or framework and you want to discuss how you adapted it to your situation. Maybe in another project you ran into an especially difficult challenge and you want to showcase how you handled the conflict and came out to your end result. Take your interviewer on the journey of your projects. It’s one thing to just show artifacts and deliverables, but you’ll have a much more successful interview. If your interviewer has an understanding of what it’s like to work with you and how you approach your process. Folks in charge of hiring want to hear about what goes on beyond the Polish portfolio pieces so that they can try to envision themselves working with you. Confidence in your work in process will go a long way in presenting your portfolio. In an interview, put together some solid case studies plan to tell a few interesting stories about projects you’ve worked on and be prepared to talk about the strengths that you can bring to a team. Good luck.