How to provide information and content to users when they need it

Information journeys are a type of customer journey

Information journeys are very specific versions of customer journeys that focus on what users do with your information.

Our research reveals the tools and resources that your users need and when they need them, so that you can develop the perfect information journey for them. Many organisations are trapped in conventional ways of imparting information to their users. Some, though, are taking advantage of the ‘information journey’ concept to improve how they share content with users.

There are two types of information journey

  1. The search journey, when users take the initiative and try to find out information from you

  2. The content interaction journey, when users use the information you share.

At Susan Bell Research we have developed a unique information and content journey research programme, based on sensemaking.

Information journey research is for you if you are asking questions like these:

  • How successful is our email verification process?

  • Do our users or members make claims for things they are not entitled to claim for?

  • Why don't our users use our self-service app?

Those are just a few examples of information journeys where you want users to interact in a certain way with your content.


Tags: Sensemaking, Information journeys, Content interaction, Interaction design

Our research shows you how your users make sense of content

Our insights into information journeys come from our work in sensemaking

Do you ever say "does that make sense?" If you don't say it yourself, do you hear it said?  A few years ago, I kept noticing how often I said it, and how often I heard it said. It got me thinking. We all know what 'makes sense' means, but somehow these words are missing from the typical researcher lexicon. Researchers talk about 'decisions', 'choices', 'motives,' 'drives', 'needs' and 'attitudes'. When I looked around, no researcher was talking about 'making sense' even though it is a phrase we use in our everyday lives all the time. 

I wondered whether there was anything in the social science literature about 'making sense'. What I discovered was a huge body of work in cognitive psychology, human intelligence, artificial intelligence and design about 'sensemaking'. In design thinking and CX, it is used to describe a process which is part analysis, part ideation. 

For us as  researchers, sensemaking is the process of making sense of our social world, and how people interact with other people and the society and culture in which they live.  When we work on customer journeys or information journeys for example, we bring people's social relationships and connections into the story. We are, after all, social creatures.

Six ways that people use to 'make sense' of content

It is perfect for understanding how people try to figure out how to solve a problem - on their own, through search, and conversations with others.  Here are six ways that people use when they try to make sense of data or information: zooming in and out; the rule of three; starting at the end; starting in the middle; having a conversation or debate with other people; and not tidying up too soon:



The information journey mistakes that we see organisations make

In our information journey research we have seen organisations:

  1. Design information journeys solely for experts. It's tempting because you know your expert users well.  Remember though that experts seek information differently from new users - they know where to look! -  they act differently after receiving information and they make sense of it all differently. 

  2.  Supply information only when the regulator tells you to. I am not saying don't do that, I am saying don't just do that

  3. Rely on Search. The best way for users to achieve cognitive overload is for you to assume that they will find the information if they search, and

  4. Forget that users 'make meaning'. Users bring their own perceptions, assumptions and sense of self to this very active process.

The perfect information journey is based on user psychology

To help you identify the perfect information journey for your users, we conduct user-centered research that teaches us about the psychology of your users - what they know, what they see, what they pay attention to, what they remember and how they think and feel.

We answer these questions

  1. What do expert and new users know about your services and where to find them?
  2. What search terms do expert and new users start out with and how do those terms evolve?

  3. When do expert and new users need this information?

  4. How do they want to access it?

  5. What goes wrong in this process, and how do users 'right themselves'?

  6. What resources, content, navigation or design affordances will help to create a more coherent and efficient information journey?

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