A journey map is a visual representation of the process someone goes through to accomplish a goal. It’s a common tool in UX Design, and it can come in a variety of forms, with some similar terminology (user journey, experience map, customer journey, etc.). At the core, a journey map compiles a series of actions a user takes into a clear timeline. From there, an extra layer is added at each step of which thoughts and emotions the user was experiencing. The final outcome is a condensed version offering a visualization that helps break down what a business needs to address.
They usually follow a similar format:
• “User persona” – A detailed, made-up character we’ve tested and validated as a representation of the most typical user (we went over how to create one in a recent blog post).
• Scenario – The context of this interaction
• Goals – What they come in expecting from this product, and hope to solve
• Takeaways: Opportunities, insights
• Internal ownership
Regardless of the type of map we’re looking at, these have 5 key elements in common:
The persona or user who experiences the journey. Their actions shown here are thing we’ve pulled from real data. Provide only one point of view in a certain map, for example if the product can be sold to business owners in different fields, we want to understand the differences between their experiences prior to interacting with this product. Sometimes people are purchasing for their business, and sometimes it’s for personal use.
2. Scenario & Expectations
The scenario describes the situation this map is addressing, with the actor’s goal or need and previously held expectations. If their comparing plans to make a switch between internet providers to save money, and expectations might be to easily find all the information for a more direct feature comparison.
Sometimes these are hypothetical, for a product you are designing that is still in the design stage (such as a new type of service plan being considered by the provider, or a page needed to outline it before launch).
3. Journey Phases
A birds-eye view of different stages in the journey. It creates a loose framework in the map (actins, thoughts, emotions). The stages will vary according to the scenario, informed by existing data. Examples:
• eCommerce (like electronics): stages could be discover, try, buy, use, seek support.
• Large purchases (like a car): engagement, education, research, evaluation, justification.
• B2B (like a software product): purchase, adoption, retention, expansion, advocacy.
4. Actions, Mindsets & Emotions
Behaviours, thoughts, and feelings the actor has throughout the journey.
• Actions: Behaviors and steps taken by users. Not too granular.
• Mindsets: users’ thoughts, questions, motivations, and information needs at different stages. Ideally, these are verbatim
• Emotions: A single line, plotted across the phases showing emotional “ups and downs” showing whether they are delighted or frustrated.
Along with additional context such as ownership and metrics, this section summarizes insights gained from the exercise. It points to how the user experience can eb optimized.
• What needs to be done
• Who owns which changes
• Where are the greatest opportunities
• How will we measure improvements implemented
Variations of a journey map
Journey map vs. Experience map: Experience map is a bit of a higher-level bird’s eye view of a less specific scenario and with a character who could be anyone, not a certain type of user. For example, to get from Point A to Point B, it could include walking, biking, driving, riding with a friend, public transportation, or calling a taxi. Pain points would include unknown fares, bad weather, unpredictable timing, paying in cash, etc. It can useful if you are trying to understand you problem space for a new type of transportation option, but then you would drill down to be more specific
Journey Map vs. Service Blueprint
A service blueprint is more specific than a Journey map, visualizing relationships between service components at various touch-points within the user journey. They come more from the perspective of the business. It considers the internal processes that support that outward facing user journey.
Journey Map vs. User Story Map
A user story map helps to plan features and certain functionalities. Journey maps are meant for discovery and understanding, and a user story map is for planning and implementation. IT comes at a later stage when a pain point has emerged.
Each feature is described from the user’s point of view. It indicates what the user wants to do and how that feature will help.
“As a [type of user], I want to [goal], so that [benefit].”
“As a chequing account holder, I want to deposit cheques with my smartphone, so I don’t have to stop at the bank.”
The user story map is a visual version of a user story. The team writes out the steps that the user will need to take: logging in, beginning deposit, taking photo of cheque, and entering transaction details. For each step, the team writes down the required features: enabling camera access, scanning image, auto filling numbers, authorizing signature. These features are written on sticky notes, and assigned to upcoming product releases.
Why use a journey map
It creates alignment in a team, where otherwise success is measured according to siloed goals, so nobody will look at the entire experience from the user’s standpoint.
Journey mapping is an exercise that provides a holistic overview of the customer experience by revealing moments of joy and frustration through a series of interactions. It helps address pain points, alleviate team project fragmentation, and create a better experience for users.