The “Current Behaviors” section of the jobs atlas summarizes all the different kinds of user actions that are currently taking place, which are shown in Figure 2. Just as the “Jobs Drivers” section includes all of the mental elements, “Current Behaviors” contains all of the physical elements. These are the patterns of inclination that we’ve observed in the sampled data, then reported. These are the buttons the user clicked, the content the user read, the buttons or content the user ignored, and so on. These are the physical operations users attempted in the hope they would lead to satisfying the demands of the jobs drivers.
Painpoints, Obstacles, and Opportunities
These are all the reasons the current behaviors are not effectively meeting the users’ demands, as shown in Figure 3. They describe the undesirable experiences users have encountered among those in the “Current Behaviors” section and provide suggestions that consumers and researchers have offered that present opportunities for improvements.
As shown in Figure 4, the success criteria describe the end states, or outcomes, the consumer is looking for when engaging in current behaviors in the hope of satisfying their jobs drivers. Success criteria define what is a desirable experience from the perspective of your consumers. Painpoints and obstacles prevent the consumer from experiencing success. The more your solutions meet or exceed the success criteria, the more likely the user population is to change their behaviors in ways that meet your goals as the experience owner. Success criteria represent a list of promises. The more your designs meet these standards, the fewer abandonments will result and the more loyalty you’ll foster.
As the jobs atlas in Figure 5 shows, jobs drivers inspire the user actions under “Current Behaviors.” Current behaviors ideally lead to success criteria. However, when they lead to painpoints, obstacles, and opportunities, skilled designers must acknowledge the challenges and transform the opportunities into superior user experiences. These four simple sections of the jobs atlas are easy to describe and turn into an engaging visualization.
The Advantages of JTBD Over Other Approaches
The JTBD jobs atlas offers several key advantages over other generative-research deliverables. While the elements of a jobs atlas are similar to those making up a journey map or persona, these other research deliverables have some inherent weaknesses that the jobs atlas does not.
Journey maps depict how motivations and behaviors can change across time, but they also falsely depict rigid linearity. This oversimplification can cause a form of tunnel vision that fails to account for the nonlinear aspects of actual experiences. In contrast, JTBD doesn’t bring time into the equation. All that matters is that we document thought processes, behaviors, and points of friction, showing how they influence the perceived quality of an experience.
Personas document how motivations and behaviors can differ according to recurring clusters of traits and attributes. However, they do this by attempting to aggregate proxies that represent a holistic understanding of a supposed individual’s defining characteristics. That is an incredibly complex undertaking. Plus, pulling insights from personas for design decision making or hypothesis creation can be very taxing. Personas require designers and product managers to become fluent in complex structures that represent a lot of attitudinal variability, then interpret how those personas might respond to a proposed experience. JTBD circumvents these layers of abstraction. Instead of starting by trying to understand the whole persona—which can be incredibly complicated and overly abstract—JTBD focuses on the desired outcome, the job to be done, which is comparatively less complicated and mostly concrete.
It is noteworthy that, despite all the differences in these deliverables, the actual UX research methods underpinning JTBD do not differ from those for the creation of journey maps or personas. When developing a jobs atlas, you would still conduct contextual-inquiry interviews, think-aloud observations, and supplemental surveys, gathering data you might use as converging evidence in the same way you would elicit data in support of a journey map or set of personas. But it’s the way in which you analyze, organize, format, and present the data that really makes JTBD different and so powerful. This flexibility has made the adoption of JTBD methods much easier.
The clarity and focus that JTBD has brought to our findings at The Home Depot has increasingly inspired greater hunger for UX research among our stakeholders, making it easier to ask for the resources that are necessary to adequately explore high-level, strategic questions. Both UX designers and product managers have embraced the jobs atlas. They are quick to identify answers to their Why questions in the form of jobs drivers, answers to their What questions as current behaviors, and answers or inspiration for their How questions through painpoints, obstacles, opportunities, and success criteria.
Christensen, Clayton M., Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David S. Duncan. “Know Your Customers’ Jobs to be Done.” Harvard Business Review, September 2016.
Wunker, Stephen, Jessica Wattman, and David Farber. Jobs to Be Done: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation. New York: AMACOM, 2016.
Ulwick, Anthony W. Jobs to Be Done: Theory to Practice. New York: Idea Bite Press, 2016.