The ultimate guide to journey driven design

Michael Gabrian

by Michael Gabrian on 06/14/2017

When you build your website, what factors do you try to keep in mind? Do you focus on creating a site for your business that has a great design? Or maybe one geared towards great content? I ask this because when we build websites, they should always be built with the user in mind. It's how we strive for a strong user experience and it's how to we aim to build something worth interacting with. This is why journey driven design is so successful.

I've written this guide to go through all components on journey driven design, from personas to content types. Hopefully by the end, you'll know what it takes to build an effective journey through your site. Enjoy!

“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.”
- Anatole France

Understanding your personas

Your personas are specific depictions of the types of people that you're targeting. Typically, the more details you apply, the stronger the persona. This would include all factors from demographics to what challenges they face. This is a huge step in the building a strategy phase of web design or webredesign. We'll go over what goes into building them in a second. First, why are they actually important to building journeys?

Well, if you understand what your visitors are searching for and why, you'll know exactly how to craft messages for them and how to deliver them. So think about it. Who typically comes to your site? If you're not sure, what are some of the commonalities you see in your visitors? How can you sort them? Let's go over some ways to build personas.

How to build a persona

As I mentioned earlier, personas are heavy in detail. You'll want to know as much as you can so you know where to post your messages and what kinds of language to use. The more you know, the stronger your marketing will be towards them. 

Here are a few areas you might want to know:

  • Job title and major responsibilities
  • What success means for them in their role
  • Industry and company size
  • Demographics (age, education, location, etc.)
  • Goals and how your product or service can help to achieve them
  • Challenges and how your product or service can help to overcome them
  • Where they typically look for information (social media, news sites, associations, etc.)
  • Shopping preferences (in person, online, mobile)

With all of this information, you'll be able to get a feel for who you're talking to. So a director of marketing versus an entrepreneur who's just starting their business. When thinking about the specific pieces to each persona, you probably wouldn't put them on the same buyer journey or provide them with the same messages.

With all of this in mind, you'll begin to figure out who your target audience is, but also keep in mind to think about the type of persona you wouldn't want as a customer.

Understanding the buyers funnel

Now that you know a little bit more about who will be venturing out on the buyer journey that you create, we'll take a look at the general buyer funnel.

The buyer funnel is a way of sorting visitors based on intent. So if a visitor is looking for information or to be educated, they would be at the top of the funnel. If a visitor is ready to buy from you, they would be at the bottom.

This funnel exists because it's provides a way to tailor your marketing message based on if they're ready to buy or just looking for some help to an issue they have. Think about where they are in the journey. You wouldn't try to push someone to buy if they know nothing about you or your products and services.

Another thing to keep in mind, your buyer funnel may be a bit different than the general one. Sometimes we make smaller purchases online and don't need a lot of hand holding, whereas some larger purchases, we'd like to learn what we can.

Hubspot provides a lot of info on each area and what types of marketing materials can fit in each one. Let's dive in.

Top of the funnel

The top of the funnel focuses on building SEO and providing educational content to visitors. Their value as a lead is low because the odds of them actually buying from you isn't quite clear yet. The hope is that they will continue down through the funnel.

Things you can offer here include:

  • Blogs
  • White papers
  • Ebooks
  • Tip sheets
  • How-to videos

Middle of the funnel

This would be a great time to experiment with gated content. The next step of the journey is to include a call to action where you would trade more valued content for their name and email.

So this part of the funnel focuses on building the relationship, starting to evaluate their potential as a lead, and nurturing them.

Things you can offer here are:

  • Case studies
  • Data sheets
  • Demo videos

At this point, the visitors recognizes they have a problem and are looking for solutions. You want to show how your product or service can provide that help.

Bottom of the funnel

Now the lead is ready to buy. You just have to convince them to buy from you. This part of the funnel is whatever final nudge you can provide to move them into the right direction.

Some powerful methods include:

  • Free trials
  • Live Demos
  • Consultations
  • Coupons

Paving your journeys

We've talked about creating personas so you know who you're talking to and where to find them. We've also talked about each stage of the buyer funnel and what type of content goes best with each stage.

Now we move on to paving the specific journey your visitors will go on. There will likely be several. So we have to look at how they will find their way to your site, what pages they will land on, and what the next step is.

An example would be someone lands on your site by clicking a blog they found on Twitter. After reading the blog they click the call to action placed at the bottom, fill out your form, and convert into a lead. I know this is oversimplified, but it explains the anatomy of a journey; arriving to the site, moving forward, and converting.

Start with who you're targeting and what you want them to do. You have the persona defined, so craft your message in a way that address their goals or challenges and place it where you know they're listening. 

Make sure your content actually does provide them some value. It doesn't have to be a blog per se, but it should be tailored to the persona and where they are in the buyers funnel. Give them a bit of confidence on their path. There should also be a call to action somewhere noticeable on the page so they know where to move next. 

This CTA could be anything; a consultation request, a product page, any way for the user to engage with your site, it's open-ended. 

So we want to think of a journey as any path that leads a visitor to moving forward into the buyers funnel. A lot of though should be put into the message that leads people to your site and where it will take them.

To conclude:

Though each journey will be different, you should always keep a few things in mind: who will be on the journey, where they are in the buyer funnel, and where the path leads to. Every path is different, so you have to  just tailor it and continue testing to see how the visitors interact with your site and see if they find their way to converting.

Journey Driven Design is a huge part of Growth Driven Design. If you want to learn how to grow your site into the indestructible marketing tool it's meant to be, click the image below.

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