The Joys of Mapping

11.04.2019 |

  • Posted by Mark Picken
  • As Jon Bon Jovi once said (according to a quote finder): “Map out your future – but do it in pencil. The road ahead is as long as you make it. Make it worth the trip.”



    We tend to use Sharpies and Post-It Notes, rather than pencil, but the sentiment is the same.

    Maps have become an important part of our journey into the world of UX (user experience) and content design over the last year.


    When I say maps, I’m not thinking Google, Ordnance Survey or that 2004 AA road map that’s sat in your boot gathering dirt. I mean process or user journey mapping.


    When did we set off on our journey?

    We’ve dabbled with mapping before. We were the first marketing company in Cornwall to carry out a value mapping exercise with SWMAS (South West Manufacturing Association) in around 2013.

    The findings were shocking. We were spending 94% of our time in the business on things that didn’t generate money!

    This revelation allowed us to improve our quoting and work processes. This made us more efficient, which led to our biggest period of growth.


    “All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination,” Earl Nightingale

    Jump forward to 2017 and it was time to look at our processes again. Working with Louise Hutton-Bailey (via Oxford Innovation) we remapped our processes based on changes within the business.

    Again, the sessions were enlightening. They paved the way for us to develop our UX review and Digital Intelligence review products. Job done!

    Since then we’ve been using the process (with added learning gathered on the Content Design London course) to support clients in both the charity and engineering sectors.


    “It’s impossible to map out a route to your destination if you don’t know where you’re starting from,” Suze Orman

    We head to client offices armed with a roll of paper, packs of Post-It Notes and Sharpies. We then take over desks and boardroom tables to understand how someone engages with our client from start to finish.

    Or finish to start, as working backwards often gives us better information.

    This allows us to look at user journeys both off and online, as well as everything around that journey.

    Engineering companies get it. They are already using mapping to help reduce waste in the manufacturing process and make things lean.


    “The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognise,” Shigeo Shingo

    We’re using the same lean manufacturing and process mapping principles, but with communications rather than widgets.

    As well as finding barriers or pain points that stop our clients’ customers from engaging (or buying), we also consider the acceptance criteria. That shows us what needs to happen for someone to move on to the next stage.

    This then allows us to plan out the messaging or content properly.


    How does this help?

    It allows our clients to think about what their customers really need. We’re also using the findings to help refine the user experience on clients websites. This is also helps create better content for the target audience(s).

    And in some cases, we’ve had clients reviewing their own internal processes so the whole organisation understands what each area does.


    Ask the experts

    Louise Hutton-Bailey from RightSquared

    I first met Mark and the MPAD team when they were unhappy with their own methods of working and looking for some support to identify how they could streamline the way they delivered customer projects.

    During my many years in manufacturing improving processes was something that was second nature, but convincing businesses outside of manufacturing that embracing the same methodologies would deliver valuable improvements was sometimes a challenge.

    Happily, it wasn’t the case with MPAD and they fully engaged with the process mapping we undertook, and reaped the benefits.

    When I spotted Mark sharing a photo of some sticky notes and a sharpie on LinkedIn I was delighted. I was fascinated to learn how he is now delivering a more robust marketing solution by taking a similar structured approach to mapping the user journey.

    The reason these approaches are so effective across what can be cultural industry barriers is that they both provide a solid framework for communication of the core needs and value and yet offer the freedom to evolve thoughts and expand on ideas in a very intuitive and visual way. This bridges the differences in language and thought processes and lets the teams share a focus on solutions.


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