Experience Mapping vs. Task Analysis

Experience Mapping vs. Task Analysis

Experience Mapping is becoming an increasingly popular tool in the UX world.  They are often used to gain a better understanding of the overall customer/user experience across all platforms and touchpoints.

Creating an experience map can help organizations pinpoint gaps in the overall customer/user experience, which makes it easier to identify areas for product innovation.  This can help feed and prioritize projects in the product backlog when organizations aren’t sure what to work on next.

So what exactly is an Experience Map? I like to think of them as the emotional love child of Task Analysis and Customer Journeys.   However, since each of these tools are more or less representations of how a user carries out tasks to accomplish a particular goal or set of goals, there can be some confusion regarding when we should use one over the other.

When should we use an Experience Map versus a Task Analysis? It depends on the type of question you’re trying to answer or problem you are attempting to solve.  Understanding what some of the differences are between the two might help you determine which tool is best for you.

Here are 3 ways experience mapping differs from task analysis:

1.     Level of Detail: Both Experience Map and Task Analysis include a great level of detail in the analysis.  However, an Experience Map differs from Task Analysis because it doesn’t necessarily capture the granularity of each step in a process that a task analysis would include.

2.     Emotions vs Emotionless: An Experience Map captures more than just what tasks are involved but also how a user feels and what they are thinking as they flow through the experience lifecycle.  Task Analysis doesn’t typically include emotions or feelings; it’s more a straight arrow in that sense.

3.     Visual Representation: An Experience Map can be represented in visually rich formats, such as an infographic that can present a wealth of information at a glance.  Task Analysis on the other hand is often represented using a collection of boxes and arrows depicting the step-by-step flow between tasks.

So it becomes less of a ‘this’ versus ‘that’ when you look a bit closer.  Both tools are useful for different purposes so think about what questions you are trying to answer and choose the right tool for you – Experience Mapping or Task Analysis.

If you are looking for more information on Experience Mapping, Akendi offers a course on how to conduct Experience Mapping research and analysis.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and encourage you to start a conversation below in the comments!

Lisa Min is a Senior Experience Architect at Akendi, a firm dedicated to creating intentional experiences through end-to-end experience design. To learn more about Akendi or user experience design, visit www.akendi.com

Photo credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/93887713@N00/9024116805
By Paris on Ponce & Le Maison Rouge

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