Journey Mapping

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A Journey Map is a visualization of a user’s experiences to accomplish a goal. It is a powerful diagram based on research insights that tells the story of how a user interacts with a product or service.

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Insights gathered during qualitative user research including interviews, contextual inquiries, and internal interviews.


A Journey Map, depicting the touchpoints a user has with an organization’s product or service.

Journey Maps summarize research insights by visually illustrating the touchpoints a user experiences with an organization while working to accomplish a goal.

Journey Maps illustrate the different interactions the user has with the service or product over a period of time — though not always linear — and the emotional responses to these interactions. They help identify user pain points where an existing product or service could be enhanced and opportunities to innovate, grounding new ideas on an empathic understanding of the user’s journey.


  • User / Customer - A Journey Map is based on a user’s experience with a product or service. Different types of users will likely have different experiences trying to accomplish certain goals, or they might have different goals altogether. Therefore, a good understanding of the different user / customer types is a necessary foundation for a Journey Map.
  • Actions / Behaviors - A Journey Map shows the different steps that a user / customer takes when interacting with a service or product. These consist of different actions they perform as part of the behaviors they exhibit, which form the context of these interactions.
  • People - Many times, a user’s interactions with a company’s offering involve other people, whether these are company representatives that help provide the service, or coworkers, friends or family, or even strangers in a public setting. These people can affect the dynamics of a user’s interactions and should be mapped as well in order to be taken into consideration when ideating solutions.
  • Context - The context in which a user experiences a service or uses a product has a significant impact on how they interact with an offering. If a user is moving through a busy environment, visual cues need to be easy to recognize at a glance. Sound signals don’t work well in a noisy environment. Do users need to be able to interact with the product with only one hand? These contextual details need to be noted as they are valuable sources that help inform the design.
  • Motivations, Needs, Goals - As Journey Maps include visual indications of the emotional state of a user — from positive to negative — it is important to note their motivations. Do their motivations and goals align with the offering a service or product provides? Does a service fulfill the user’s needs? Gaps between a user’s expectations and the actual experiences can cause friction that will negatively affect how a user perceives an experience.
  • Products & Services - A Journey Map should indicate the different products and services a customer uses when trying to accomplish a goal. If they rely on specific tools for their job, these need to be noted.

Creating a Journey Map

There is a defined process for creating a Journey Map. Ensuring that these steps are followed will help prevent many of the common pitfalls in the creation process:

  1. Define a start and end - A Journey Map should visualize the path a user or customer takes to accomplish a specific goal. In order to create a map, determine a point that the user typically starts when beginning their task. The end point should relate to the accomplishment of the goal. However, your map may show that users are not able to accomplish their goal, in which case the map needs to indicate that as well.
  2. List a user’s actions / behaviors - The individual points on the Journey Map represent different actions or behaviors the user demonstrates throughout their journey to accomplish their goal. Include all important steps of their journey. Some of these may be very detailed, where they indicate significant steps, whereas other areas may be more general.
  3. Break the behaviors into stages - A user’s journey typically consists of three different stages. The first of which is a pre-execution stage. These are the steps a user takes in preparation of their journey, such as research or gathering necessary tools. The next stage is the execution stage, which is the main phase in which they perform the key activities that contribute to them accomplishing their goal. Third is a post-execution stage, comprised of the steps that might be necessary to take after accomplishing the primary objective, like logging an activity, cleaning up, etc.
  4. Identify what is motivating the user - The ways in which users perceive experiences are shaped by their motivations. The better a product or service is aligned with their motivations, the more positively they will perceive the experience. The Journey Map should give indications of the user’s motivations and emotional states throughout the journey.

Common Pitfalls

Journey Maps present user insights in an easily consumable format. Even still, challenges can emerge when trying to leverage them in a way they weren’t intended to be used.

  • One size fits all - Instead of creating a single map for a product or service, Journey Maps should be specific to a persona/archetype. While different personas or archetypes may engage in the same behaviors at specific touchpoints, their context, motivations, needs, and goals will likely differ.

  • Experiences aren’t always linear - It can be tough to visualize a user journey that doesn’t naturally follow a sequential pattern. Focus each Journey Map on the goal the user is trying to achieve.

  • The right amount of detail - It can be difficult to determine the right amount of detail for a Journey Map. Some details might seem trivial but give invaluable insights into emotional states or motivations of the users. At the same time, an overly detailed map can easily become too complex to read.


Journey Maps can be created leveraging a variety of mediums.

Starting low fidelity with post-it notes that can easily be moved and rearranged can be a great way to iterate through ideas quickly. As the Journey Map is refined, consider a higher fidelity tool to create the visualization.