Emotion Mapping users for a Global Bank.

Tasked with leading UX propositions for a global bank's digital presence in 63 markets and 11 languages, Matt discusses how he approached Research and Strategy when measurable data and access to users was limited.

Client and project specifics have been kept anonymous due to non-disclosure agreements.

7 Minute Read

I was recently subcontracted as Lead UX Designer for a large global bank, tasked with leading the research, strategy and information architecture propositions in the discovery phase of work. Once I had a picture of project aims and objectives, I began by isolating useful data sources, desired analytics and a list of user types that I would like to speak to or shadow, but quickly became aware that the client, for a number of reasons, would be unable to share the data with me and the team. All I would have access to was historic anecdotal evidence, a small pool of feedback from users and face-to-face time with one corporate manager in their City of London headquarters.

Fast forward six weeks and I was able to present and gain backing for proposals using the visual tools below that aided understanding and supported the business case for the approach, but this wouldn't have been possible without approaching the data through a different lens:

Both I and the client recognised the limitations of the research, but in order to form models and approaches, the data we did have needed exploring from a different perspective and to be represented in a way that could inform the strategic decisions to come.

The objective of the digital presence was to resource multinational business clients with content and insights. We quickly isolated a, previously unrecognised, secondary user group of internal managers within the bank's own infrastructure; people who had personal relationships with these clients already, who themselves desired insights to share personally with their roster of clients in order to deepen those relationships and build trust. Thus we had two user groups (internal managers and clients), both with a required journey to insightful content. Once consuming that content, managers required a route to connect and share this content with specific clients and clients required a route to contact their managers to discuss the implications of the content they had just read.

emotion mapping.JPG

With this foundation for a content model and proposition for user strategy, we required data and insights to test the theory and create actionable insight that would inform the structures of rules, wireframes, models etc

Following this and the isolation of a handful of basic user personas, I decided to approach the data from an emotional perspective to help isolate the driving factors, intentions and motivations behind these two user types and their subsets; and began mapping these emotions onto a basic task and user flow foundation. This emotion mapping would have been far easier with more data, users to speak to, observe and even test the assumptions with, but without these, the creation of many micro emotions based upon the basic personas provided insights and actionable propositions for technical development and design as well. Actionable propositions that, in time, proved to be accurate and valuable to the client.

As you can see from this diagram, I charted a single horizontal task flow; a flow chart outlining actions all users would or could take on the journey of consuming a single piece of content. I've then drawn parallel lines, above and below the task flow to signify a converted journey (at the top) and a broken journey (at the bottom).

  • Conversion = Desired action performed by user
    i.e. while consuming content, a user decides to contact their manager at the bank, and acts upon that decision to talk further about the themes and ideas in the content.
  • Broken = User leaves content ecosystem
    i.e. user not only decides not to contact their client manager but also doesn't finish consuming the content.

From this point on, I took the accessible data and personas as a basis to write basic emotions and opinions from the perspective of the users (either direct from feedback and analytics or inferrred from what we knew of them) and assigned these to spaces on the emotion map. Emotions could be positive or negative and their proximity to one of the outer lines signified how powerful these emotions were and how close their user journeys were to breaking or converting.

Any emotions charted north of the horizon signified a strategic opportunity to which we could make decisions and create experiences to help nudge it further northward until conversion and further engagement.

Any emotions charted south of the horizon signified a juncture, where, were we not to address it, users may leave the ecosystem or worse still, have a negative experience of the client. This juncture was also an opportunity for myself and the team to do something about it, and again make strategic decisions and build experiences that nudged them northwards.


Charting emotions as triggers for actions in this way allowed us to demonstrate multiple user journeys in real time using the emotion map. Using the task flow as a base but choosing different mapped emotions and questions unique to different users as points in a journey along with the proposed UX decisions in response to the opportunities and junctures presented.

In an ideal world, emotion mapping would not have been the desired approach for this job, but given the lack of data, it proved invaluable when paired with other insight and documentation to help aid the creation of strategy and information architecture propositions.

The technique has since proved valuable for other work we have undertaken at Kore, even in data rich environments; creating an emotional lens through which to view engagement as one source of insight, alongside the other tools we all have in our toolkits.

Matt Hollidge


Matt is an information architect, strategist, public speaker and co-founder of Kore; passionate about the connected application of information architecture and UX Research across digital and non-digital information systems.
He is a prolific generator of ideas and consults as a concept developer at Yes Mutha. In his spare time, Matt sells antique maps on Etsy and serves craft cocktails as The Amateur Mixologist.