A Quick Guide to User Journey Mapping

You might create a super functional, life-saving product or a service as a company.

But if your user is not able to achieve the value you offer smoothly through your app or website your product’s quality doesn’t matter. 

So identifying and solving the needs of your audience might be enough in theory, but it’s not in practice.

You have to show them through effective marketing and UX that it is exactly what they need.

This is where a well created User Journey Map can make a difference, giving you an insight on the users’ interactions with your product.

What is a User Journey Map?

The user journey map visualizes your users’ all interaction points with your platform on a diagram.

It is a sequence of steps that show how your users engage with your product or service. Various website pages, turning points are involved in this journey to reach the end goal. 

The map might show the whole process of discovery to acquiring the desired value from the product or it might map out a specific part of a sequence like from discovery to receiving the product they order. Therefore, a diagram may be a sophisticated or simplified one according to your company’s goals and needs.  

For example, if you have an e-commerce website a User Journey Map shows your customers’ discovery of the site by word of mouth to their reception of the order. Through this narrative map, you can analyze users’ motives, goals, emotions with your brand.

What is the difference between a User Journey Map and a Customer Journey Map?

You probably have heard of these two distinct concepts interchangeably used for each other. There is a great fuss over the difference between these concepts and they are commonly misunderstood.

Customer Journey Mapping is the focus of Customer Experience (CX). It has a holistic view of depicting the customers’ behavior, emotions, environment, and different goals all across the engagement with your brand. It involves the steps before using the product and after ending the relationship with the brand.

On the other hand, User Journeys Maps are used specifically within the context of User Experience (UX) and it is intended to depict the digital experience. It only considers what happens within the app or website. 

User Journey Maps are compromised upon a way more detailed depiction of how a customer navigates through different tasks upon reaching the end goals such as buying the product. User journeys are created with detailed specific touchpoints under specific projects. 

Read our guide to Customer Journey Maps if that’s what you were looking for.

As we’ve established a definition of User Journey Maps, let’s see what makes these suckers so important:

what is user journey mapping

Why is User Journey Mapping important?

User journey maps allow companies to look at the user experience from the users’ point of view.

What value are the users interested in, how they are expecting to achieve it, and how they actually achieve it(or don’t achieve it) with your product or service are the points you can discover through user journey maps.. 

By creating a user journey map all departments of the company such as marketing, product, sales, and customer service could be involved in improving user experience. Each department could have a better understanding of the responsibility they have in the end-to-end process. 

Company resources could be more efficiently allocated. Waste of time and money around could be minimized as the user journey map will allow the company to spot the problematic interaction points and will render a more precise user persona.

So product/service could be marketed to the right customers, which will become immediate consumers. Better customer service could be applied to intervene at just the exact time to amplify the great customer experience.

It could benefit your product optimization process by allowing you to plan each interaction of users with your website and therefore plan the road ahead.

You would better classify and organize tasks and build the needed interface with the help of the User Journey Map. 

Beyond creating buttons and layout, UX designers need to direct users to the important touchpoints for the business and user journey maps are the primary resource that they can use to do just that. Possible hypotheses could be outlined and begin to be tested to increase customer satisfaction and retention as well.

When is the right time to create a User Journey Map?

From the moment your company is on a digital platform having a User Journey Map could speed up the process of optimizing the UX.

UX designers are responsible for creating the user journey maps by doing detailed research on the topic. Of course, the whole team will eventually be involved in improving the digital experience and benefit from the map. 

How to create a User Journey Map

how to map the user journey

We’re past theory now, it’s time to get to action and create your user journey map.

What I would recommend is dividing the whole process into three steps, the first two being the research part and the last one being the actual creation, let’s dig deeper into the each step:

Step 1 – Define your user persona

Think about the demographics of your target audience. You need to understand who you are you working for, what they are expecting, and what they are willing to pay for your product or service.

  • What are their age, location, occupation, income, education?
  • What devices do they use?
  • What are their values?
  • What do they need to solve their problem?
  • What are their motivations?
  • What are their habits?

Interview with customers and identify common patterns among them. Further, divide them into categories.

Come up with 3-5 different personas that you can create a different path for.  

Step 2 – Decide on your users’ touchpoints 

You need to analyze the actual data and customer behavior.

In its simplest form typical user journey steps are Discovery, Learning, Purchase, Using.

Besides these main steps there are certain aspects you need to consider:

  • Context: It is about the location of the user. Where does your user? Are there any external factors that may distract them around? 
  • Progression: How does the user move from one step to next?
  • Devices: Which device does the user use? How good they are using it? Are they aware of its features?
  • Functionality: What does the user expect 
  • Emotion: How does the user feel at each state in the website? 
  • Pain points: What are the negative issues customers face? What are the problems you didn’t know?

To achieve such data, there are two methods you can use: (you can click on the methods to see our articles on them)

  1. User Testing – doing 1-1 interviews with your users as they use your product for the first time, observing how they accomplish tasks and what they think of your product or service.
  2. Product Analytics – analyzing the user behavior and hard data to achieve the data you need to create a user journey map.

Step 3 – Visualize the journey:

Now all there is left to do is piecing the puzzle together.

There are many ways to create your user journey map, and all is acceptable. Do what works best for you!

You can use diagram tools(I’d suggest Miro) or ready-to-use templates to create a user journey.

You can even use a whiteboard in your office to draw it up, as I’ve said its up to you.

Note that depending on the type of business you are in and you would have different personas and your user journeys would differ. 

The user journey for an e-commerce website would be designed to encourage the purchase of products. For an online magazine, subscription to newsletter would be appreciated. Whatever makes your boat float.

Regardless, here are some general foundation points to consider for any type of journey map:

  • A descriptive title which summarizes the type of journey 
  • A picture of the persona
  • Series of steps written clearly in text
  • Illustration of what is going on in each step
  • Changes to journey in each step
  • Benefits and functionality for the user in each step
  • Users emotions in each step
  • Ideas and opportunities identified at the bottom of the page for the company

You may create more specific maps based on different personas or different common behavior patterns among customers. Showing different patterns of user behavior on a diagram will provide a deeper vision for your company. 

If you’ve followed all three steps correctly, you now have a user journey map that you can utilize for your product.

There is one question left unanswered:

What’s Next?

It is pretty obvious that after creating a user journey map you will try to improve your UX and optimize the process for your users.

Other than changing your product layout and making adjustments here and there, you can utilize UX elements such as product tours, in-app messages, and user onboarding checklists to establish some sort of guidance for your users.

And the best way to do that is using a 3rd-party user onboarding tool(here’s why building it yourself is a bad idea), such as UserGuiding.

UserGuiding is a no-code tool that you can use to create many UX elements that makes the UX even smoother.

It is also completely free to start:

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Alican Bektas

Alican is the Product Manager of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that helps teams scale user onboarding and boost user engagement.