The User’s Journey — Fully Refined
For your ease, I will bullet point the entirety of the 3 stages and their individual explanations. So that you can use it as a reference if you wish to use any of these ideas. Equally, you are welcome to contact æStranger, if you wish to discuss this some more.
I. The Call — This is the stage usually referred to as the Discovery phase by other thought leaders.
i. The Ordinary World — Awareness of a Problem
o The user is familiar with the world, with all its stresses and distractions. They have many problems that require a solution from you.
ii. Call to Adventure — A Need to Change the Problem / Find a Solution
o This is the Call-To-Action for the user. They’ve been made aware of a specific problem that they have, and they feel the need to solve it. Or they have been made of aware of curiosity they need satisfied.
iii. Refusal of the Call — Fear of Change
o The user can sometimes be doubtful or afraid of the new experience that they’ve come across from you. But don’t worry the next feature will help you and the user.
iv. Meeting the Mentor — Overcoming Fear through an Aid
o You the Creator of the experience can here offer some guidance or tools to the user. These can be little freebies, booster packs, support that help them along the way. Often though it’s best that the user is unaware that you are helping them and that they discover these on their own.
II. The Initiation — This is usually referred to as the stage where the Onboarding and Scaffolding phases take place.
i. Crossing the Threshold — Committing to the Change
o This is the literal cross-over point between the Call and the Initiation stages, from Discovery to Onboarding.
o At this moment, the user will have voluntarily chosen to continue with the experience you have provided. It’s also a great time to insert a small and easy challenge for the user. One that is simple enough that feel a push or surge of empowerment to continue after they’ve accomplished it.
ii. Test, Allies, Enemies — Trials & Experiments
o Here the user learns the basics of the system and experience they are in.
o The user is also introduced to the Community for the first time, they can gain more “powerful” or knowledgeable allies here.
o And as its name suggests, Trials, the user must also be regularly challenged to assess their comfort with the knowledge and deeper insight into their abilities that they have gained.
iii. Approach to the Cave — Preparing for a Major Change
o It is important that the user is allowed to experience failure often, and that it occurs often. It’s a very important mechanic through which they can learn, and not simply repeat an easy approach that used to work for other challenges.
o The user must also be given instant and meaningful (and positive) feedback with every challenge they overcome and every failure that occurs.
o Essentially the “Cave” is a space where the user can reflect upon what they have learned so far.
iv. The Ordeal — A Major Change Happens
o This is the stage where the user is properly challenged and tested for the first time with an associated consequence. Everything they have learned so far will be of use here.
o Failure should still be an option here, but it should be an Epic-Failure if it occurs, and as it has a consequence, retrying it should have an obstacle in place, i.e.: a prior challenge needs to be revisited and overcome first before that can try this one again. As repetition better embeds knowledge.
o When the user is finally successful, they should have an equal or great Epic-Win to further motivate them to continue.
v. The Reward — Accepting (the consequences of) the Change
o Here the “Level Up” moment occurs. Up to you how you visualize it for your user.
o The user should be rewarded with an achievement for their epic-win, something that is appropriate and signifies what they have earned by overcoming the ordeal.
o To facilitate that the user does indeed continue after their win and doesn’t stagnate, you can add what Jane McGonigal calls Urgent Optimism. It is a sense that is a combination of urgency caused by perceived scarcity along with the belief that the ability is sufficient to achieve it. For example, the reward could help the user in future challenges but only if they use it in a particular way that they figured out, within the next 10 days.
III. The Return — This stage is commonly known as either the Mastery or Endgame phase in the journey.
i. The Road Back — New Challenges & Rededication to New Changes
o The user has now achieved the next level, gained new support items for the next step of their journey.
o Here you can give the user another moment to receive feedback and reflect upon the Ordeal and Reward stages.
o You as the Creator can also “guide” the user back to a new set of Trials, at a higher difficulty, with more or different content to extend the journey.
ii. Resurrection — Final Attempts at New Changes & New Problems
o This can be seen as the Endgame/Mastery gateway, once the user is sufficiently competent or mastered the system, you can choose to let them through to the endgame area.
o In this stage, greater more long-term challenges should be awaiting the user. Ones where the user requires far more times and investment to complete them all if they can. This area is designed specifically to retain hardcore users by getting them to invest heavily in the experiences you’ve created.
iii. Return with the Elixir — Complete Mastery & New Creation
o Once the user is at a point of having mastered what you’ve created, they should be given (pushed to) the option of sharing and interacting with the community at large. Assisting and supporting new-comers to your experience.
o If you the user has an appropriate mastery of your system, then there should be one last stage of that will take them the longest to complete. A life-quest as it were, and it should really involve them adding experiences themselves, which they and others can enjoy as well.
o These above steps will increase the user’s investment into your system exponentially, so use with caution so that they do not become addicted or obsessed with your creation.