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Arthur McCay

Arthur McCay

How to create an Impact Map in 4 easy steps?


As you might remember from our previous post, Impact Mapping is a product planning technique. The one that lets you set business goals and visualize the way and the means to achieve them.

This method shows you the impact that this or that feature will make (or won’t) once implemented. By creating an Impact Map, you can see the bigger picture, align business goals and prioritize tasks.

When You Should Create an Impact Map

Right off the top of my head, I can name 3 cases when it’s time to create a map when you:

  • Don’t know what should be in the product.
  • Want to prove your client that a particular feature isn’t worth enough.
  • Plan the next sprint or release.

For more details read '6 Cases When You Need to Create an Impact Map'.

By the way, impact mapping comes in handy when you’re planning not only products but projects as well.

How is Impact Mapping Different from Other Similar Techniques?

Put in a few words – making an Impact Map is easier. You need to make only 4 simple steps to transform abstract ideas into complete user stories:

  1. Set and describe business goals
  2. Identify personas (or actors) – people that can help you achieve your goals
  3. Define actions that you want these actors to take
  4. Come up with deliverables, aka what you can do to inspire these actions

Simple enough? Let’s put theory into practice by creating an Impact Map example for an imaginary coffee house. We’ll go through the process of creating a map step by step. By the end of this tutorial, you won’t need any proof that mapping impact is simple and fun.

We'll be creating the example with our handy Impact Map tool that has everything to help you make a kick-ass impact. Make sure you check it out.

Define the goal


Imagine you have a coffee house. What would be your primary goal? Making profit, of course. Let’s say you’re a reasonable fellow and you want a sale boost of 15% by the end of the quarter.

Go ahead and write it down in the business goals section. Don’t forget to add details to this goal. You may want to include sections like:

  • What exactly you want to achieve.
  • Why achieving this goal is important.
  • How you will know that you’ve achieved this goal.

By the way, UXPressia has all these sections by default.

Identify Personas or Actors


You may find that in different sources these influencers sometimes are called personas and sometimes actors. We’ll call them personas for the sake of consistency.

We will add these three people and all of them will be your customers.

Note: personas are not only the ones who help you (like customers or employees). They can be ones that prevent you from achieving your goals (competitors, government, etc.).

Again, adding pretty pictures and names is not enough. You need to know more about each persona. For example, consider adding answers to such questions like:

  • What do you know about this persona?
  • What does this persona need?
  • Does this persona have any frustrations? What are they?
  • Is there anything you can do to solve this persona’s problems?

Answering these questions will help you find the right deliverables for each persona later.

As an example, we’ll say that our first persona named Gilbert is an occasional coffee buyer who pops in our place in the morning for that espresso shot. He’s always in a rush and he hates wasting his time waiting for coffee.

The second guy Per loves latte and prefers to drink coffee outside. He loves coffee but thinks that sometimes he spends way too much money on his addiction.

Amy is a different kind. She loves the atmosphere of the place and she always meets with friends and clients over a cup of delicious cappuccino with cinnamon. Noises and loud music is what frustrates her.

Add Impacts


Once you’re done with personas it’s time to define actions you want these personas to take in order to help you achieve your goals. It is reasonable to start with the one that is more likely to contribute.

Describe precisely how you want this persona to change her behavior. These actions are the impacts we want to create in our example.

So for Gilbert, this would be something like coming for coffee more often. Same can be for the Per. As for Amy, we’d like to stay longer so she buys another cup of her favorite drink and maybe a croissant.

And before you ask why we have two different personas if we want identical actions from them (yes, I mean Gilbert and Per). While impacts are the same, their pain points are different so deliverables will differ too.

Surely, each persona may have multiple impacts. We stick with this one-impact-per-person strategy for the sake of keeping the article somewhat short.

Define Deliverables


We’re almost there, folks! The last step is to decide what we can do for our actors so that they take action. And these are the features of your product or service.

Again, for Gilbert, it is obvious that we want to reduce the waiting time. So we can optimize our operations in order to make the coffee making process more efficient.

Per doesn’t want to spend too much money without cutting his daily dose of latte. Otherwise, the caffeine will drop to a critical level and Per will get sad. What can we do to help him? How about introducing a loyalty program like “every 7th coffee is on the house”? This could solve his problem.

Amy doesn’t want to be disturbed, so we can do something to decrease the levels of noise coming from coffee machines and grinders.

Wrap It Up in User Stories


All that’s left to do now is to take what we’ve created and transform it into user stories.

So we end up with these three user stories:

  • Gilbert. As an occasional coffee buyer, I want my drinks to be served ASAP so I can make it to my morning meetings in time.
  • Per. As a coffee lover, I don’t want to spend too much money without reducing the amount of coffee I consume.
  • Amy. As a stay-in-the-café customer, I don’t want to be bothered by loud music and other noises so I can enjoy conversations with friends and clients.

And that’s all there is to Impact Mapping. We came up with four excellent ideas to boost our coffee sales in less than ten minutes! Starting with the goal all the way to concrete features and ideas to be implemented.

That was our Impact Map in action. And now that you’re equipped with this knowledge, it’s time for you to build your own example!

Just make sure to make it with UXPressia – the ultimate toolset for designing top-notch services and your best source of inspiration.

And for slide lovers we got a summary of this post on slideshare:

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