How do we develop a strategy that can be quickly created, easily understood and that is actually read by the target audience?
Trigger Mapping and the entire Whiteport design process is based on a philosophy of effect control that maintains that a system must be used, and used as intended, to create value for the business. The condition for a usable system is that users can express their needs through the system.
The main tool of effect control is the effect map, which gives an unbroken, logical value chain between business, concept development and design decisions. The effect map is detailed and can become so big and broad that it becomes difficult to follow and understand.
The challenge is to find the intersections between the business and the customers’ motivations: Who wants what?
At the place where the interests meet, we have all the necessary conditions to create successful digital businesses. At the same time, the map needs to be easy to understand.
When you are knee-deep in research on the target group, the trigger map is a relief in its simplicity. When there is no research material at all, it becomes a lowest common denominator that everyone can rally around.
Next time you’re standing there empty-handed or with an analysis that requires a poster printer and a magnifying glass to read, do not despair. Take out a sheet of A4 paper and follow these four steps instead.
How do you create a trigger map?
A trigger map should be easy and fun to create for the customer. Therefore, we usually produce it in a relaxed conversation in front of the whiteboard with our client. When we ask interesting questions about the business, the process is experienced as rewarding and we can have a good discussion about how the business can be improved.
The first thing you do is to divide your paper or whiteboard into three columns.
Step 1: Operational goals
Print the client’s name in the first column. Draw a factory, their logo or another image that symbolizes their business.
The next step is to find out the vision for the business, that is, what kind of movement the client wants to achieve in the business by using the product.
Ask questions to the project team like:
- Where do you want to go with your business in the foreseeable future?
- What do you want to change in your business?
- What things do you want to see a distinguishing characteristics for your organization in the future?
- How do you want the world to see you differently from today?
- What will be possible in the future with this product that is not possible today?
Often the answers are about money. The company wants to increase revenue or save on expenses. Simply writing down “increase revenue” is not sufficiently targeted to lead the way forward. We need to be specific in how we imagine that the increase in sales will happen.
Try to find out how the client wants to increase sales by asking, for example:
- Is there a specific target group whose purchasing behavior you want to change?
- How do you want to increase revenue?
- In what way do you want to reduce spending?
Keep asking until the project team has produced clearly defined business goals.
When the discussion has reached a formulation that everyone is happy with, write down the goals in the first column. Leave space between the lines.
When all the visions are specified, we shift our focus to the measurable business goals. Visions and goals are listed according to how important they are to the business, and under every point of the vision we then list since measurable goals and missions, the things we want to do differently to achieve the vision.
Before you start the discussion, it is important to set a time frame within which the goals need be achieved. The most common time frames are 1, 3 or 5 years.
For example, it can be something like this:
- “We want to increase the number of website visits by 100 percent.” (Measurable goal)
- “Our customer service will become better.” (Mission)
If the business has difficulties producing measurable goals, you do not need to hang your head. Not all clients want to control their projects with the help of goals that are clearly quantifiable and time-bound. What we are after is a clear direction rather than an exact goal.
Step 2: Define user groups
In the second column, you collect what kind of user or customer groups who through their use will ensure that business goals are met.
Define the company’s most important customer groups and rank them, preferably with a picture that allows you to distinguish between them.
Ask questions like:
- What kind of clients do you think contribute most to the business?
- What types of customers usually complain and cause problems?
- Which customers do you wish acted differently?
- Are there any target groups you want to interact with in a better way?
Briefly list the characteristics that each target group has. Feel free to create persona sketches if you like, the main thing is that you find that things that set the groups apart. Those things can be activities, needs, usage situations, their steps in the customer journey, rather than their socio-economic context.
Feel free to exaggerate the characteristics so that the differences between target groups become clear. That will in turn make it easier to define the challenges facing the company.
Step 3: Identify driving forces
Then, it’s time to articulate the driving forces in the user groups in the context of the operation or system that you want to develop.
In trigger mapping we are specifically looking for explicit and implicit attitudes and feelings which drive the actual purchase decision. While the effect map focuses on what the user wants or can achieve, trigger mapping also looks at what the target groups absolutely do not want to experience, what they are afraid of or are doubtful of. The insights gained through trigger mapping is that negative feelings to a large degree control many behaviors online, sometimes more than positive emotions.
Say for example that you want to buy a home alarm. The driving force behind the purchase is the fear of unwanted visitors.
Write down the driving forces in the third column in the form of expressions. Illustrate them with a star.
The opinions will be of the form “I …”:
- I want …
- I wish …
- I hope …
- I don’t want to …
- I never …
- I would die if …
- I cannot deal with …
- “I can’t deal with being late again.”
- “I want my neighbors to be impressed.”
An important basic rule is that the driving forces are aimed at producing a result and not on the use of a function.
The last step of the trigger mapping process is to ensure that the most important thing comes first.
Work from left to right on the map and prioritize business goals, user groups and driving forces in relation to each other. Remember that one must be the most important.
This part of the process leads to many interesting discussions and the clarification of the priorities is always very appreciated by our clients.
You are currently working with effect mapping
If you have worked with effect mapping, you will notice that there are various solutions that are not part of the trigger map. The reason for this is that a feature rarely affects only one type of usage goal, and that the map must be updated whenever a certain function is completed.
By settling for driving forces and just focusing on what drives the buying decision, we reduce the size of the material and increase the longevity of the map. A traditional effect map is often so big that you need a usability consultant to interpret the meaning for you.
The trigger map is designed to be as communicative as possible, therefore we create it mostly by hand. The limited area of an A4 paper forces us to really think things through.
Congratulations, your map is ready!
Something you will notice in the creation of the map is that the process itself gives rise to many new ideas for features and solutions. Save the ideas and use the inspiration to design the new system, but wait until the map is complete. The prioritization in the last step can show ideas in a new light.
The trigger map is very effective as a tool in the conceptual development. The business objectives guide you in what functions and what content should be presented first and most prominently, and which parts can be given lower priority.
The driving forces give you lots of inspiration on how the various features and content should be presented to users in order to provide maximum user benefit and value to the business.
By using the map proactively, you can easily explain your concept and motivate your design decisions.