How to map a user journey


A user journey map is a way of describing the steps that a user takes in order to complete a task or goals. In other words, it’s a map of the customer’s experience. This can be incredibly useful for businesses to understand how customers interact with their product or service.

By understanding the journey that a customer takes, businesses can optimize the experience and make it more efficient and user-friendly. User journey maps can also help businesses to identify areas where there is potential for improvement. Perhaps more importantly, user journey maps help to prevent design blind spots, those obvious in retrospect but all too easy to overlook in the early stages of a project.

If you want to map out the user journey for your product, there are a few key things to keep in mind. You start by identifying your users and all of the touchpoints they have with your product. But how does this work in practice? Let’s dissect together all the steps you need to take to map a user journey.



Chose a template


Good to know that there’s many ways of mapping a user journey. Using a template is not a must have but it can save you a lot of time. As you acquire more confidence you’ll be able to decide what you need and what you don’t need.

Good examples of templates to map user journeys are:

user journey map

Source: Mural


Customer description


Now that you have a template let’s start filling it. Every good template has a customer description. A customer description in a user journey map is a written or visual representation of who your customer is. Here many teams make the mistake of only considering elements like: gender, age, education etc. What you really want to write down are those things that make your users different from the rest: do they have unique desires? Unique needs? Will they use the product in a different way than the others? You can read more on how to create a good user description here.

The customer description is an essential component of the user journey map, as it helps businesses to understand the customer’s needs and goals. Understanding the unique needs of your users will help you create a laser-sharp proposition that is tailored on the unique needs of your users.



Sketch the high-level stages


There are generally at least four main stages: discovery, activation, conversion, and engagement.

Discovery is how new users discover the product. Is it on social media or do they look for this kind of solution on Google? Chances are there’s multiple ways in which new users find about your offer. Activation is all about getting users to take their first step with your product or service. Can they start using the product immediately or do they have to create a profile? Is there an onboarding? The next steps is to have users engage with your product. How does that happen? When do users open your app again or log in again? Finally there’s conversion. That’s when users pay for your product.

These are just general guidelines – every business and every product is different. Sometimes there’s no chance to use the product without paying for it. Conversely, freemium products take into account from the start that only a percentage of users will convert. Referral is also an important step you may want to track. So try to think of what makes your business different. Understanding these four phases is a good starting point for mapping out your own user journey.



Map all the touchpoints


Now that you’ve mapped the stages, you can focus on the touchpoints. In a user journey map, touchpoints are the single points of interaction users have with your product. There can be multiple touchpoints per stage. They can be physical (like using a touch screen on a smartphone) or digital (like clicking on an ad). Touchpoints can also be emotional (like feeling frustrated when a website is slow to load) or mental (like remembering a product you saw in a store). Understanding touchpoints helps you design a smoother user experience.



Map pain and delights


How do users feel while they interact with each touchpoint? Remember that a successful product it’s not only a product that solves a problem. To win your users’ hearts and minds, your product needs to provide a positive experience. So in your map you want to track this.

While most journey maps focus on the positive aspects of the user experience, it’s important to also consider the pain points. It’s often the negative experiences that leave the strongest impression. By mapping out both the pains and delights of the user journey, you can identify opportunities to improve the overall experience. So, while it may not be pleasant to think about, examining the dark side of the user journey is essential to eliminate frictions.



Metrics to track


Without metrics, it would be difficult to know how well your journey map is performing or where improvements need to be made. There are a variety of metrics that you can track, but some of the most important include conversion rate, customer satisfaction, and path efficiency. By tracking these metrics, you can get a clear picture of your customer’s journey and identify areas where changes need to be made.



Last step: validate and test your map


Your user journey map is a living document. As your users’ behaviour will change, keep update it regularly. Keep testing it to ensure that your map reflects reality.

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