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How to create an effective user journey map

how to create a user journey map

No matter what you’re working on, the key to customer satisfaction and business growth is understanding your users. A user journey map helps you uncover pain points, explore the touchpoints from their perspective, and learn how to improve your product.

Imagine you just launched a new ecommerce platform. Shoppers fill their carts with products, but they abandon their carts before checkout. With a user journey map, you can pinpoint where the customer experience is going wrong, and how to enable more successful checkouts.

Read on to find out:

  • What is a user journey map, and how it captures user flows and customer touchpoints
  • Benefits of user journey mapping to refine UX design and reach business goals
  • How to make user journey maps in five steps, using FigJam’s user journey map template

What is a user journey map?

Think about the path a user takes to explore your product or website. How would you design the best way to get there? User journey maps (or user experience maps) help team members and stakeholders align on user needs throughout the design process, starting with user research. As you trace users' steps through your user flows, notice: Where do users get lost, backtrack, or drop off?

User journey maps help you flag pain points and churn, so your team can see where the user experience may be confusing or frustrating for your audience. Then you can use your map to identify key customer touchpoints and find opportunities for optimization.

How to read a user journey map

Most user journey maps are flowcharts or grids showing the user experience from end to end. Consider this real-life journey map example of a freelancing app from Figma's design community. The journey starts with a buyer persona needing freelance services, and a freelancer looking for a gig. Ideally, the journey ends with service delivery and payment—but customer pain points could interrupt the flow.

Start your user journey map with FigJam

5 key user journey map phases.

Take a look at another Figma community user journey template , which uses a simple grid. Columns capture the five key stages of the user journey: awareness, consideration, decision, purchase, and retention (see below). Rows show customer experiences across these stages—their thoughts, feelings, and pain points. These experiences are rated as good, neutral, and bad.

To see how this works, consider a practical example. Suppose a new pet parent wants to learn how to train their puppy and discovers your dog-training app. Here's how you might map out the five key user journey stages:

  • Awareness. The user sees a puppy-training video on social media with a link to your product website. They're intrigued—a positive experience.
  • Consideration. The user visits your product website to preview your app. If they can't find a video preview easily, this could be a neutral or negative experience.
  • Decision. The user clicks on a link to the app store and reads reviews of your app and compares it to others. They might think your app reviews are good, but your price is high—a negative or neutral experience.
  • Purchase. The user buys your app and completes the onboarding process. If this process is smooth, it's a positive experience. If not, the customer experience could turn negative at this point.
  • Retention. The user receives follow-up emails featuring premium puppy-training services or special offers. Depending on their perception of these emails, the experience can range from good (helpful support) to bad (too much spam).

2 types of user journey maps—and when to use them

User journey maps are helpful across the product design and development process, especially at two crucial moments: during product development and for UX troubleshooting. These scenarios call for different user journey maps: current-state and future-state.

Current-state user journey maps

A current-state user journey map shows existing customer interactions with your product. It gives you a snapshot of what's happening, and pinpoints how to enhance the user experience.

Take the puppy training app, for example. A current-state customer journey map might reveal that users are abandoning their shopping carts before making in-app purchases. Look at it from your customers' point of view: Maybe they aren't convinced their credit cards will be secure or the shipping address workflow takes too long. These pain points show where you might tweak functionality to boost user experience and build customer loyalty.

Future-state user journey maps

A future-state user journey map is like a vision board : it shows the ideal customer journey, supported by exceptional customer experiences. Sketch out your best guesses about user behavior on an ideal journey, then put them to the test with usability testing. Once you've identified your north star, you can explore new product or site features that will optimize user experience.

How to make a user journey map in 5 steps

To start user journey mapping, follow this step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Define user personas and goals.

Gather user research and data like demographics, psychographics, and shopping behavior to create detailed customer personas representing your target audience.  In your dog-training app example, one key demographic may be parents. What’s their goal? It isn't necessarily "hire a puppy trainer"—it could be "teach kids how to interact with a puppy."

Step 2: Identify customer touch points.

Locate the points along the user journey where the user encounters or interacts with your product. In the dog training app example, touchpoints might include social media videos, app website, app store category search (e.g., pets), app reviews, app store checkout, in-app onboarding, and app customer support.

Step 3: Visualize journey phases.

Create a visual representation of user journey phases across key touchpoints with user flow diagrams , flowcharts , or storyboards .

Step 4: Capture user actions and responses.

For each journey stage, capture the user story: at this juncture, what are they doing, thinking, and feeling ? This could be simple, such as: "Potential customer feels frustrated when the product image takes too long to load."

Step 5: Validate and iterate.

Finally, show your map to real users. Get honest feedback about what works and what doesn’t with user testing , website metrics , or surveys . To use the dog-training app example, you might ask users: Are they interested in subscribing to premium how-to video content by a professional dog trainer? Apply user feedback to refine your map and ensure it reflects customer needs.

Jumpstart your user journey map with FigJam

Lead your team's user journey mapping effort with FigJam, the online collaborative whiteboard for brainstorming, designing, and idea-sharing. Choose a user journey map template from Figma's design community as your guide. With Figma's drag-and-drop design features, you can quickly produce your own professional, presentation-ready user journey map.

Pro tip: Use a service blueprint template to capture behind-the-scenes processes that support the user journey, bridging the gap between user experience and service delivery.

Ready to improve UX with user journey mapping?

Exploring User journey mapping in Design thinking: A beginner's guide

unnamed.png

User journey mapping is a powerful tool in design thinking, offering a visual narrative of a user's experience with a product or service. It's more than a series of steps; it's a window into users' emotions, motivations, and satisfaction.

This article explores how user journey mapping aligns with user-centric design and design thinking principles. It uncovers methodologies, tools like Gleek, and the process of creating a user journey map.

What is User Journey Mapping?

User journey mapping is a visualization tool that allows designers and product managers to explore the user's experience. It is a narrative of your users' experiences with your product, service, or any other interaction they have with your brand. It tracks their journey from the initial contact or discovery, through the process of engagement, into a long-term relationship.

This journey is often depicted as a series of steps, which represent each interaction the user has with your product or service. These steps could range from a user's initial search to purchasing a product, getting customer support, and beyond. Each step is then evaluated to gauge the user's feelings, motivations, and questions, as well as their overall satisfaction.

The goal of a user journey map is to provide insights into the common paths users take when interacting with a product or service. This, in turn, helps identify pain points, moments of friction, and opportunities for improvement in the user experience.

Importance of User Journey Mapping in Design Thinking

In design thinking, user journey mapping plays an important role. Design thinking itself is a human-centric approach to problem-solving. It involves empathizing with users, defining their problems, ideating solutions, prototyping, and testing.

Make your own User Journey diagram .

User journey mapping fits seamlessly into this methodology. It provides a framework for empathizing with users by providing a visual representation of their experiences. It helps in defining their problems by identifying pain points along their journey. It aids in ideating solutions by highlighting areas of improvement. And it gives a reference point during the prototyping and testing phases.

Overview of User Journey Mapping Role in User-Centric Design

User journey mapping is fundamental in user-centric design, focusing on understanding user needs and integrating products or services into their lives. It aids by deeply exploring the user's world—clarifying not just their actions but also motivations, emotions, and pain points. This aligns product development closely with user expectations, ensuring not just usability but also delight, fostering higher satisfaction and loyalty. Essentially, user journey mapping elevates the design process by prioritizing user needs over business, external validation over internal assumptions, and experiences over mere features.

Understanding Design Thinking and its Principles

Design thinking as such is a methodical approach to problem-solving that prioritizes the user experience. It's characterized by its human-centric ethos, which zooms onto understanding users' needs, behaviors, and pain points. The goal of design thinking is to develop creative, practical solutions that enhance user satisfaction and address real-world problems.

Read our recent guide on how to create a User Journey diagram for a food ordering app .

The principles of design thinking are empathy, ideation, and experimentation. Empathy involves gaining a deep understanding of the user's problems and needs. Ideation is the process of generating a broad range of creative solutions. Experimentation involves prototyping and testing solutions to refine ideas based on user feedback and real-world application.

Phases of Design Thinking

Design thinking unfolds in five interconnected stages:

Empathize: This initial phase involves gaining a profound understanding of the users, their context, and their needs. It's about stepping into the user's shoes to understand their experiences, motivations, and feelings. Techniques such as interviews, observation, and user journey mapping are used to gather insights.

Define: Here, the problem is clearly articulated based on the insights gathered during the empathize stage. It involves defining the user's needs and the challenges they face. The goal is to formulate a user-centered problem statement that will guide the ideation process.

Ideate: In this creative phase, a wide range of potential solutions are brainstormed. The aim is to generate as many ideas as possible, deferring judgment. These ideas are then evaluated and refined. Gleek's diagramming capabilities can help visualize these ideas, making the ideation process more efficient and effective.

Prototype: A tangible representation of one or more solutions is created for further exploration and user testing. This prototype could be a physical model, a storyboard, or a digital interface. It serves as a tool for investigating the viability of ideas and their implementation in the real world.

Test: The effectiveness of the solution is evaluated in this final stage. The prototypes are tested with users, and their feedback is collected. The insights gained are used to refine the solution, and the cycle may begin anew with a deeper understanding of the user and the problem.

By following these stages, design thinking enables the creation of solutions that are not only technically viable but also desirable from a user perspective and feasible from a business standpoint.

User-Centricity and The Concept of User-Centric Design in Product Development

In product development, user-centricity is not just a buzzword. It's a philosophy that guides every decision and action. User-centric design puts the needs, experiences, and contexts of users at the core of the development process.

This user-centric approach ensures that the final product delivers value to the user, fits into their workflow seamlessly, and ultimately, enhances their experience. It's about making products that are not just usable, but also enjoyable and effective.

Significance of Understanding User Needs

Understanding user needs is paramount in crafting a product that truly resonates with the users. It's about uncovering what users want, what they value, and what problems they face. This deep understanding then informs the design decisions, ensuring that the product addresses the users' needs effectively. It helps identify opportunities for innovation, guide product development, and ensure that the product hits the mark with users.

How User Journey Mapping Aligns with User-Centric Design

User journey mapping is a tool that perfectly aligns with the principles of user-centric design. It provides a visual narrative of the user's experience, capturing their interactions, emotions, and touchpoints with your product or service.

By using Gleek to create user journey diagrams, you can visualize the path that users take, identify their needs at each stage, and uncover any pain points or moments of delight. This process allows you to empathize with your users, understand their perspective, and design solutions tailored to their specific needs.

In essence, user journey mapping with Gleek helps make the design process more user-centric by shifting the focus from internal assumptions to user insights, from features to experiences, and from business goals to user satisfaction.

Components and Process of User Journey Mapping

Defining personas and identifying touchpoints.

In user journey mapping, defining personas and identifying touchpoints are key initial steps. Personas are fictional representations of your primary users, based on user research. They provide a clear understanding of who the users are, what they need, and how they interact with your product or service.

Touchpoints, on the other hand, are the points of interaction between the user and your product or service. They can be anything from viewing a webpage, clicking a button, to receiving an email notification. Identifying these touchpoints provides an overview of the user's experience and helps uncover areas of friction or delight.

With Gleek, you can create a group of stages for each persona using "/g Stages group name." Then, for each stage, you can link relevant touchpoints by pressing TAB and inputting their names. This way, Gleek allows you to visualize the personas and their interactions with your product or service effectively.

Mapping User Emotions, Interactions, Pain Points, and Opportunities

Another critical aspect of user journey mapping is capturing the user's emotions, interactions, pain points, and opportunities. Understanding how users feel at each touchpoint, what actions they take, what difficulties they face, and where there's potential for improvement can provide invaluable insights into the user experience.

Gleek allows you to incorporate an emotional aspect into tasks by typing ":" followed by a number from 1 to 6. Ratings 0 to 2 signify negativity, 3 is neutral, and 4 to 6 indicate positivity. This feature enables you to map the user's emotions effectively across their journey.

By visualizing these aspects, you can gain a deeper understanding of your users and design solutions that address their needs and enhance their experience.

Process of Creating a User Journey Map

Creating a user journey map involves several steps:

Research: This involves gathering information about your users and their interactions with your product or service. It can be done through interviews, surveys, analytics, and other methods.

Persona Construction: Based on the research, create personas that represent your primary user groups. These personas should capture the users' demographics, behaviors, needs, and motivations.

Mapping: Start by defining the stages of the user journey, from the initial contact to the end goal. For each stage, identify the touchpoints, the user's actions, emotions, pain points, and opportunities. Use Gleek's keyboard-only diagramming to visualize this journey effectively.

Validation: Once the map is created, it should be validated with real users. Their feedback can help refine the map and ensure that it accurately represents their experiences.

Tools and Techniques for User Journey Mapping

Digital Tools and Software

Gleek: An online AI-powered diagramming tool designed for generating user journey diagrams using only the keyboard. Gleek's intuitive syntax allows easy creation of stages, tasks, touchpoints, and emotional aspects within tasks.

UXPin : A collaborative design platform allowing teams to create interactive user journey maps.

Miro : Online whiteboarding tools enabling teams to collaborate in real-time on creating visual journey maps.

2. Manual Techniques and Templates:

Sticky Notes and Whiteboards: Perfect for collaborative workshops, allowing teams to physically map out user journeys in real-time.

Journey Map Templates: Pre-designed templates available online or within design software, providing a structured starting point for mapping.

3. Customer Research and Data Collection Techniques:

Interviews and Surveys: Directly engaging with users to gather insights, pain points, and emotions at different touchpoints in their journey.

Analytics Tools: Utilizing web analytics or user tracking tools to gather quantitative data on user behavior and interactions.

4. Visualization Techniques:

Flowcharts and Diagrams: Representing the user journey in a structured flow, showcasing touchpoints, emotions, and pain points.

Storyboards: Visual storytelling technique to illustrate a user's journey step-by-step, ideal for presenting a narrative.

5. Integration with Design Thinking Methods:

Empathy Mapping: Understanding user needs and emotions deeply to enhance the accuracy of the journey map.

Persona Creation: Developing detailed personas to better align the user journey with specific user segments.

6. Prototyping and Testing Tools:

Prototyping Software: Integrating the journey map with prototyping tools like Adobe XD, Figma, or Sketch to create interactive prototypes based on the mapped journey.

Usability Testing Platforms: Conducting usability tests to validate the mapped journey through platforms like UserTesting or Lookback.

Conclusion: Recap and Future Trends

The process of user journey mapping is an essential component of user experience design. It allows us to understand users' needs, motivations, and pain points, helping us create more effective and user-friendly products or services. With tools like Gleek, this process becomes even more streamlined and efficient, allowing for quick generation of diagrams using keyboard shortcuts alone.

However, as we move forward, it's necessary to stay abreast of evolving trends. AI-powered tools are increasingly becoming more sophisticated, offering more features and capabilities for user journey mapping. Embracing these advancements will allow us to create more detailed, dynamic, and accurate user journey maps.

Additionally, as user behaviors and expectations continue to evolve, we must ensure our user journey maps remain up-to-date and reflective of these changes. This will involve regular reviews and updates of our maps, as well as ongoing user research.

In conclusion, while there are challenges and limitations in user journey mapping, by leveraging the right tools, techniques, and best practices, we can effectively navigate these obstacles and continue to improve our understanding of the user experience. Create a user journey map with Gleek to see how it works.

Related posts

Understanding various user paths: Examples of User journey maps

How to create a User Journey diagram for a food ordering app

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A Beginner’s Guide To User Journey Mapping

To design a great product, you need to understand what the user does with it. A user journey map will help you to answer that question for the product’s entire lifecycle.

Nick Babich

“How do people actually use this product?” is a fundamental question that every product creator must answer. In order to do so, product designers need to understand the essence of the whole product experience from the user’s perspective. Fortunately, user journey mapping is an excellent exercise that can shed light on the ways in which the users interact with the product.

What Is a User Journey Map?

More From Nick Babich What Is Microcopy?

What Design Problems Does a User Journey Map Solve?

A user journey map is an excellent tool for UX designers because i t visualizes how a user interacts with a product and allows designers to see a product from a user’s point of view. This fosters a more user-centric approach to product design, which ultimately leads to a better user experience.

User journey maps help a product team to find the answer to the “What if?” questions. Also, a user journey map can be helpful when a company tracks quantitative key performance indicators . In this case, a user journey map can become a cornerstone for strategic recommendations.

The 8-Step Process of User Journey Mapping

Before creating a user journey map, review the goals of your business or service. This knowledge will help you align the business and user goals.

  • Choose a scope.
  • Create a user persona.
  • Define the scenario and user expectations.
  • Create a list of touchpoints.
  • Take user intention into account.
  • Sketch the journey.
  • Consider a user’s emotional state during each step of the interaction.
  • Validate and refine the user journey.

1. Choose a Scope

The scope of the user journey map can vary from a high-level map that shows end-to-end experience (e.g., creating a smart home in your house) to a more detailed map that focuses on one particular interaction (for instance, adding a new device to your smart home ecosystem).

2. Create a User Persona

Who is your user?

A user journey map is always focused on the experience of one main actor — a user persona who experiences the journey.

A user persona should always be based on information that you have about your target audience. That’s why you should always start with user research . Having solid information about your users will prevent you from making false assumptions.

Gather and analyze all available information about your target audience:

  • Interview your real or potential users.
  • Conduct contextual inquiry. This is an  ethnographic field study that involves in-depth observation of people interacting with your product.
  • Conduct and analyze the results of user surveys.

3. Define the Scenario and User Expectations

The scenario describes the situation that the journey map addresses. It can be real or anticipated. It’s also important to define what expectations a user persona has about the interaction. For example, a scenario could be ordering a taxi using a mobile app with the expectation of getting the car in five minutes or less.

4. Create a List of Touchpoints

Touchpoints are user actions and interactions with the product or business. You need to identify all the main touchpoints and all channels associated with each touchpoint. For example, for the touchpoint “Buy a gift,” the associated channels could be purchasing online or buying in the store.

5. Take User Intention Into Account

What motivates your user to interact with your product? Similarly, w hat problem are users looking to solve when they decide to use your product? Different user segments will have different reasons for adopting it.

Let’s take an e-commerce website. There is a big difference between a user who is just looking around and one who wants to accomplish a specific task like purchasing a particular product.

For each user journey, you need to understand:

  • Motivation. Why are the users trying to do this action?
  • Channels. Where the interaction takes place.
  • Actions . The actual behaviors and steps the users take.
  • Pain points . What are the challenges users are facing?

Also, ensure that the user is getting a consistent experience across all channels.

6. Sketch the Journey

Put together all the information you have and sketch a journey in the format of a step-by-step interaction. Each step demonstrates an experience that the persona has with a service/product or another person.

You can use  a tool called a storyboard,  which is a graphic representation of how a user does something, step by step. It  can help you show how users can interact with a product. Using storyboards, you can visually depict what happens during each step.

7. Consider a User’s Emotional State During Each Step of the Interaction

What does a user feel when interacting with your product?

The products we design need to mirror the states of mind of our users. When we consider a user’s emotional state, this knowledge will help us to connect with them on a human level. That’s why it’s important to add an emotional lane to the user journey map. By visualizing the emotional ups and downs of the experience, you’ll find the areas that require refinement.

You can create an empathy map to better understand how the user feels. Try to mitigate the emotional downs and reinforce emotional ups with good design. 

8. Validate and Refine the User Journey

Journey maps should result in truthful narratives, not fairy tales. Even when a user journey is based on research, you must validate it. Use the information from usability testing sessions and app analytics to be sure that your journey resembles a real use case.

Gather and analyze information about your users on a regular basis. For example, user feedback can be used to improve your understanding of the user journey.

More in Design + UX Hey Designers, Stop Using Users

Map the User Journey

Remember that the goal of making a user journey map is to create a shared vision within your product team and stakeholders. That’s why, once you create a user journey map, you should share it with your peers. Make it possible for everyone in your team to look at the entire experience from the user’s standpoint and draw on this information while crafting a product.

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User Journey Map Guide with Examples & FREE Templates

18 April, 2024

Alice Ruddigkeit

Senior UX Researcher

User Journey Mapping

Customer journey mapping is also a popular workshop task to align user understanding within teams. If backed up by user data and research, they can be a high-level inventory that helps discover strategic oversights, knowledge gaps, and future opportunities.

Yet, if you ask two different people, you will likely get at least three different opinions as to what a user journey looks like and whether it is worth the hassle. Read on if you want to understand whether a UX journey map is what you currently need and how to create one.

You can get the templates here:

user journey map UX template

Click here to download a high-resolution PDF of this template.

What is user journey mapping?

Imagine your product is a supermarket and your user is the person wanting to refill their fridge. They need to: 

Decide what to buy, and in what supermarket will they be able to find and afford it

Remember to bring their coupons

Park there 

Find everything

Save the new coupons for the next shopping trip

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If you want to learn more about how to optimize your user journeys, we recommend enrolling in our course "Mastering Mobile App Product Management" for free.

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Our modules, including "How to Map Out Your Discovery" and "User Research for Mobile Apps," ensure you create visually stunning and highly functional user experiences.

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3 ways to understand customer journey maps

Now, there are at least three ways to look at the customer journey.

1. Workflow maps for usability optimization 

Some imagine a user journey map as a wireframe or detailed analysis of  specific flows in their app . This could be, for example, a sign-up flow or the flow for inviting others to a document. In our supermarket example, it’s a closer look at what they do inside your supermarket, maybe even only in the frozen section. Or you could define what you want them to do in the frozen aisle.

.css-61w915{margin-right:8px;margin-top:8px;max-height:30px;}@media screen and (min-width: 768px){.css-61w915{margin-right:38px;max-height:unset;}} The focus here is on getting the details of the execution right, not how it fits into the bigger picture of what the user needs.

It is more or less a wireframe from a user perspective. Such a product-focused understanding is not what we want to discuss in this article, though many examples for the best user journey maps you might come across are exactly this. There are good reasons to do such an analysis as well, since it helps you smooth out usability for the people who have already found their way into your supermarket because of your excellent ice cream selection. Workflow maps won’t help you notice that your lack of parking spots is one of the reasons why you are missing out on potential customers in the first place. By only looking at what they do inside the supermarket, you might also miss out on an opportunity for user retention: You could help them get their ice cream home before it melts.

2. Holistic user journey maps for strategic insights

With a more holistic view of what people experience when trying to achieve a goal, product makers gain strategic insights on how their product fits into the big picture and what could be in the future. Because this journey document covers so much ground, it is usually a linear simplification of what all the steps would look like if they were completed. Going back to our supermarket example, it would start from the moment the person starts planning to fill the fridge and ends when the fridge is full again — even if the supermarket building is only relevant in a few phases of this journey. Creating this version of a user journey map requires quite some time and research effort. But it can be an invaluable tool for product and business strategy. It is an inventory of user needs that can help you discover knowledge gaps and future opportunities.  Service blueprints   are the most comprehensive version of a user journey map  since they also lay out the behind-the-scenes of a service, usually called backstage. In our supermarket example, that could be:

the advertising efforts

logistics required to keep all shelves stocked

protocols the staffers follow when communicating with customers

3. Journey mapping workshops as an alignment method

In a user journey mapping workshop, stakeholders and team members share their knowledge and assumptions about the users. Some of these assumptions might need to be challenged — which is part of the process. The goal is not the perfect output, but rather to get everyone into one room and work out a common understanding of the users they are building products for. It forces everyone to organize their thoughts, spell out what they know and assumed was common knowledge — and ideally meet real users as part of the workshop. If done right, this establishes a more comprehensive understanding of what users go through and helps overcome the very superficial ideas one might have about the lives and needs of people outside their own social bubble.

Hence, such a workshop helps create aha moments and gives the consequences of great and poor product decisions a face. So at the end of the day, it is one of many methods to evangelize user-centricity in an organization.

What are the benefits of user experience (UX) mapping?

We already discussed the benefits and shortcomings of workflow maps, but what are the reasons you should consider a UX journey map and/or a journey mapping workshop ?

1. Switching perspectives

Empathy:  Like any other UX method and user research output, user journey maps are supposed to foster empathy and help product makers put themselves into the shoes of a user. Awareness:  It creates awareness of why users do all the things they do. And it challenges product makers to resist the temptation of building something because it’s feasible, not because it’s needed that way.

2. Aligned understanding

Given the team is involved in creating the user experience map (either as a workshop, in expert interviews, observing the user research, or at least as a results presentation), it forces a conversation and offers a shared mental model and terminology — the foundation for a shared vision. 

3. Seeing the big picture

Imagine the vastly different perceptions Sales reps, Customer Support teams, C-level, and backend engineers might have since they all meet very different segments at very different stages of their journey. Day-to-day, it makes sense to be an expert in the stages of a user journey you are responsible for. A journey map helps to step back from this and see the bigger picture, where your work fits in, and where assumptions about the majority of users were wrong. It might even help define KPIs across teams that don’t cancel each other out.

4. Uncovering blind spots and opportunities

A user journey map gives you a structured and comprehensive overview of which user needs are already tackled by your product and which ones are either underserved or solved with other tools and touchpoints. Which moments of truth do not get enough attention yet? These are the opportunities and blind spots you can work on in the future.

When is customer journey mapping just a waste of time?

In all honesty, there are also moments when creating a user journey map or running a journey mapping workshop is destined to fail and should better be put on hold. It’s a lot of work, so don’t let this energy go to waste.  User journey maps only make sense when there is an intention to collaboratively work on and with them.  Here are some of the scenarios and indicators that it’s the wrong moment for a journey map:

No buy-in for the workshop: The requirements of a successful journey workshop are not met, e.g., there is not enough time (60 minutes over lunch won’t do the trick), only a few team members are willing to attend, and/or key stakeholders refuse to have their assumptions challenged.

Isolated creation: The whole creation process of the user journey map happens isolated from the team, e.g., it is outsourced to an agency or an intern. Nobody from the team observes or runs the user research, or is consulted for input or feedback on the first drafts. There is no event or presentation planned that walks the team through the output. Finally, a very detailed, 10-foot-long poster appears in a hallway, and none of the team members ever find time to read, process, or discuss it with each other.

UX theater: For one reason or another, there is no time/resources allocated to user research or reviewing existing insights whilst creating the map (usability tests with non-users do not count in this case, though). Such an approach, also known as, can do more harm than good since the resulting user journey may only reinforce wrong assumptions and wishful thinking about your users.

Unclear objectives: The user journey map is only created because it is on your UX design checklist, but the purpose is unclear. If you are unsure what you or your stakeholders want to achieve with this journey map, clarify expectations and desired output before investing more energy into this. E.g., there is a chance you were only meant to do a usability review of a bumpy app workflow.

Lack of follow-through: Creating a user journey map is just the start. Without a plan to implement changes based on insights gathered, the map is merely a paper exercise. This lack of action can result from limited resources, lack of authority, or inertia. It's vital to establish a process for turning insights from the map into design improvements or strategy adjustments. This includes assigning tasks, setting deadlines, and defining success metrics to ensure the map drives real change and doesn't end up forgotten.

Overcomplication: Sometimes, to capture every nuance and detail of the user experience, teams can create an overly complex user journey map. This can make the map difficult to understand and use, particularly for team members who weren't involved in its creation. A good user journey map should balance detail and clarity, providing insightful and actionable information without overwhelming its users.

Failure to update: User expectations, behaviors, and the digital landscape constantly evolve. A user journey map that remains static will quickly become outdated. Regular reviews and updates are necessary to ensure that the map reflects the current state of user experiences. This requires a commitment to ongoing user research and a willingness to adjust your understanding of the user's path as new information becomes available.

The good news is: UX maturity in an organization can change rapidly, so even if you run into one of the obstacles above, it is worth revisiting the idea in the future. Once you’re good to go, you can get started with the user journey map examples and templates below.

User journey mapping: examples, templates & tools

There is more than one way to do it right and design a great user journey map. Every organization and industry has its own templates, tools and approaches to what elements are most important to them. The following examples and template will give you an idea of what a user journey map can look like if you decide to create one yourself. Make it your own, and change up the sections and design so they make sense for your product and use cases.

User journey map template and checklist

To give you a first orientation, you can use this user journey template and check the two fictional examples below to see how you could adapt it for two very different industries: instant meal delivery and healthcare.

Click here to download a high-resolution PDF of the user journey map template. 

While there is no official standard, most other user journey maps contain the following elements or variations of them:

Key phases (or ‘stages’) start when users become aware of a problem they need to solve or a goal they want to achieve and may end when they evaluate whether they achieved their goal or enter a maintenance phase. E.g., user journeys for e-commerce could be structured along the classic funnel of:

Consideration

Delivery & use

Loyalty & advocacy

2. Jobs to be done

Whilst some other user journey templates might call this section ‘steps’ or ‘tasks’, it can be very beneficial to structure the stages into ‘jobs to be done’ (JTBD) instead. This framework helps you distinguish better between the actual goal of a user vs. the tasks required to get there . For example, safe online payments are never a goal of a user, this is just one of many jobs on the long way to get new sneakers on their feet. Ideally, users ‘hire’ your product/service to assist them with some of the JTBD on their journey. Phrase your JTBD as verb + object + context . Examples:

Install app on phone

Tip delivery driver

Buy new shoes

Naturally, the stages closest to your current (and future) solution require a more detailed understanding, so you might want to investigate and document deeper what JTBDs happen there.

3. Needs and pains

Users have needs and pains every step along the journey. Use this section to collect the most important needs and potential pains, even if not all apply in all cases. Ask:

What are the repeating themes, even the ones you are (currently) not able to solve with your product?

Phrase pains and needs as I- or me-statements from the user perspective, e.g., ‘I forgot my login details, ‘I am afraid to embarrass myself’ or ‘My day is too busy to wait for a delivery.’ 

Which are the pains and needs that are so severe that, if not solved, they can become real deal-breakers for your product or service?

On the last point, such deal-breaker and dealmaker situations, or ‘ moments of truth ’, require particular attention in your product decisions and could be visually highlighted in your journey. In a meal delivery, the taste and temperature of the food are such a moment of truth that can spoil the whole experience with your otherwise fantastic service.

4. Emotional curve

An emotional curve visualizes how happy or frustrated users are at certain stages of their journey. Emojis are commonly used to make it easy to understand and empathize with the emotional state of the user across the whole journey. It can be a surprising realization that users are not delighted with your witty microcopy, but you already did a great job by not annoying them. It is also a good reminder that what might personally excite you is perceived as stressful or overwhelming by most other users. Strong user quotes can be used for illustration.

5. Brand and product touchpoints

Here, you can list current and planned touchpoints with your brand and product, as well as. Whilst the touchpoints when using your product might be obvious, others early and late in the journey are probably less obvious to you but critical for the user experience and decision to use or return to your product. This is why it is worthwhile to include them in your map. Make sure your journey does not get outdated too soon, and don’t list one-off marketing campaigns or very detailed aspects of current workflows — just what you got in general so there is no major revision needed for a couple of years.

6. Opportunities for improvement

As you map out your user journey, it is important to not only identify the current touchpoints and experiences but also opportunities for improvement. This could include potential areas where users may become frustrated or confused, as well as areas where they may be delighted or pleasantly surprised.

By identifying these opportunities, you can prioritize making meaningful improvements to the user experience and ultimately creating a more positive, long-lasting relationship with your users.

7. Other tools and touchpoints

This may seem the least interesting aspect of your journey or a user interview, but it can tell you a lot about blind spots in your service or potential partnerships or APIs to extend your service. E.g., Google Maps or WhatsApp are common workaround tools for missing or poor in-app solutions.

User journey map example 1: health industry

The following example is for a fictional platform listing therapists for people in need of mental health support, helping them find, contact, schedule, and pay for therapy sessions. As you can see, the very long journey with recurring steps (repeated therapy sessions) is cut short to avoid repetition. 

At the same time, it generalizes very individual mental health experiences into a tangible summary. While it is fair to assume that the key phases happen in this chronological order, JTBD, timing, and the number of sessions are kept open so that it works for different types of patients.

You can also see how the journey covers several phases when the platform is not in active use. Yet, these phases are milestones in the patient’s road to recovery. Looking at a journey like this, you could, for example, realize that a ‘graduation’ feature could be beneficial for your users, even if it means they will stop using your platform because they are feeling better.

This user journey map is fictional but oriented on Johanne Miller’s UX case study  Designing a mental healthcare platform . 

User journey map example 2: delivery services

What the example above does not cover is the role of the therapist on the platform — most likely they are a second user type that has very different needs for the way they use the platform. This is why the second example shows the two parallel journeys of two different user roles and how they interact with each other. 

Nowadays, internal staff such as delivery drivers have dedicated apps and ideally have a designated UX team looking out for their needs, too. Creating a frictionless and respectful user experience for ‘internal users’ is just as critical for the success of a business as it is to please customers.

customer journey map examples

User journey map example: meal delivery. Please note that this fictional journey map is just an example for illustrative purposes and has not been backed up with user research.

For more inspiration, you can find collections with more real-life user journey examples and customer journey maps on  UXeria ,  eleken.co  &  userinterviews.com , or check out free templates provided by the design tools listed below.

Free UX journey mapping tools with templates

No matter whether you’re a design buff or feel more comfortable in spreadsheets, there are many templates available for free(mium) tools you might be already using. 

For example, there are good templates and tutorials available for  Canva ,  Miro  and even  Google Sheets . If you are more comfortable with regular design software, you can use the templates available for  Sketch  or one of these two from the  Figma (template 1 ,  template 2 ) community. There are also several dedicated journey map tools with free licenses or free trials, e.g.,  FlowMapp ,  Lucidchart  and  UXPressia , just to name a few.

Be aware that the first draft will require a lot of rearrangement and fiddling until you get to the final version. So it might help to pick where this feels easy for you. 

How do I collect data for my app user journey?

User journey maps need to be rooted in reality and based on what users really need and do (not what we wish they did) to add value to the product and business strategy. Hence, user insights are an inevitable step in the creation process.

However, it’s a huge pile of information that needs to be puzzled together and usually, one source of information is not enough to cover the whole experience — every research method has its own blind spots. But if you combine at least two or three of the approaches below, you can create a solid app user journey .

1. In-house expertise

The people working for and with your users are an incredible source of knowledge to start and finalize the journey. Whilst there might be a few overly optimistic or biased assumptions you need to set straight with your additional research, a user journey mapping workshop and/or  expert interviews  involving colleagues from very different (user-facing) teams such as:

customer service

business intelligence

customer insights

will help you collect a lot of insights and feedback. You can use these methods to build a preliminary skeleton for your journey but also to finalize the journey with their input and feedback.

2. Desk research

Next to this, it is fair to assume there is already a ton of preexisting documented knowledge about the users simply floating around in your company. Your  UX research repository  and even  industry reports  you can buy or find with a bit of googling will help. Go through them and pick the cherries that are relevant for your user journey. Almost anything can be interesting:

Old research reports and not-yet-analyzed context interviews from earlier user interviews

NPS scores & user satisfaction surveys

App store feedback

Customer support tickets

Product reviews written by journalists

Competitor user journeys in publicly available UX case studies

Ask your in-house experts if they know of additional resources you could check. And find out if there’s already a  long-forgotten old journey map  from a few years ago that you can use as a starting point (most organizations have those somewhere).

3. Qualitative user research

Qualitative research methods are your best shot to learn about all the things users experience, think, and desire before and after they touch your product.  In-depth interviews  and  focus groups  explore who they are and what drives them. You could show them a skeleton user journey for feedback or  co-creation . 

This could also be embedded into your user journey mapping workshop with the team. Alternatively, you can follow their actual journey in  diary studies ,  in-home visits  or  shadowing . However, in all these cases it is important that you talk to real users of your product or competitors to learn more about the real scenarios. This is why usability testing with non-users or fictional scenarios won’t help much for the user journey map.

4. Quantitative research

Once you know the rough cornerstones of your user journey map,  surveys  could be used to let users rate what needs and pains really matter to them. And what their mood is at certain phases of the journey. You can learn how they became aware of your product and ask them which of the motives you identified are common or exotic edge cases. Implementing micro-surveys such as  NPS surveys , CES , and  CSAT  embedded into your product experience can give additional insights.

5. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey

Customer satisfaction surveys (or CSATs for short) are important tools that measure your customers' satisfaction with your product or service. It is usually measured through surveys or feedback forms, asking customers to rate their experience on a scale from 1 to 5. This metric can give valuable insights into the overall satisfaction of your customers and can help identify areas of improvement for your product.

CSAT surveys can be conducted at different customer journey stages, such as after purchase or using a specific feature. This allows you to gather feedback on different aspects of your product and make necessary changes to improve overall satisfaction.

The benefit of CSAT lies in understanding how satisfied customers are with your product and why. By including open-ended questions in the surveys, you can gather qualitative insights into what aspects of your product work well and what needs improvement.

5. User analytics

User analytics is a beautiful source of information, even if it has its limits. Depending on what tools you are using (e.g., Google Analytics, Firebase, Hubspot, UXCam), you can follow the digital footprints of your users before and when they were using the product. This may include  acquisition channels  (input for brand touchpoints and early journey phases),  search terms  that brought them to your product (input for needs and pains), and how they navigate your product. 

Unlike a usability test, you can use  screen flows  and  heatmaps  to understand how your users behave naturally when they follow their own agenda at their own pace — and how often they are so frustrated that they just quit. Knowing this gives you pointers to negative user emotions at certain journey steps and even helps identify your product’s moments of truth. Whilst you cannot ask the users if your interpretations are correct, checking analytics already helps you prepare good questions and talking points for user interviews or surveys.

Curious to know how heatmaps will look in your app?  Try UXCam for free — with 100,000 monthly sessions and unlimited features.

How can I utilize UXCam to collect App User Journey data?

If you have UXCam set up in your mobile app, you can use it to support your user journey research. You can find many of the previously mentioned  user analytics  features ( screen flows  and  heatmaps , including  rage taps ) here as well. 

UXCam can also be an  invaluable asset for your qualitative research . Especially for niche products and B2B apps that normally have a lot of trouble  recruiting real users  via the usual user testing platforms. 

UXCam’s detailed segmentation options allow you to  identify exactly the users you want to interview  about their journey — and  reach out to them via either email or UXCam push notifications , which can include invitation links for your study, a survey or an additional screener.

Additionally, UXCam's session replay feature allows you to watch recordings of user sessions, providing valuable insights into how users interact with your app and where they may face challenges.

Where can I learn more?

Don’t feel ready to get started? Here are a few additional resources that can help you dive deeper into user journey mapping and create the version that is best for your project.

Creating user journey maps & service blueprints:

Mapping Experiences by Jim Kalbach

Journey Mapping 101

How to create customer journey maps

Customer Journey Stages for Product Managers

The Perfect Customer Journey Map

Planning and running user journey mapping workshops:

Journey mapping workshop

Jobs to be done:

The Theory of Jobs To Be Done

Moments of truth in customer journeys:

Journey mapping MoTs

What is a user journey map?

A user journey map is a visual representation of the process that a user goes through to accomplish a goal with your product, service, or app.

What is a user journey?

A user journey refers to the series of steps a user takes to accomplish a specific goal within a product, service, or website. It represents the user's experience from their point of view as they interact with the product or service, starting from the initial contact or discovery, moving through various touchpoints, and leading to a final outcome or goal.

How do I use a user journey map in UX?

User journey maps are an essential tool in the UX design process, used to understand and address the user's needs and pain points.

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Journey Mapping in Design Thinking: Best Practices & Tools

Table of contents, what is journey mapping, the importance of journey mapping in design thinking, start with clear objectives, gather qualitative and quantitative data, involve a cross-section of stakeholders, visualize the entire user journey, focus on the emotional journey, use clear, accessible visuals, iterate and evolve, translate insights into actionable strategies, share and communicate findings, reflect and learn, tools and techniques for journey mapping, incomplete or biased data, stakeholder alignment, overwhelming complexity, keeping the journey map updated, translating insights into action.

Ever wondered what it feels like to walk a mile in your users’ shoes? 

Journey mapping, a cornerstone of design thinking, offers just that opportunity, providing a vivid narrative of the user’s experience from their perspective. This immersive tool goes beyond traditional data analysis, inviting designers and stakeholders into the user’s world, where every interaction, emotion, and decision is mapped out in detail. By charting the user’s course from initial engagement to long-term loyalty, journey mapping reveals not just the what and how of user interactions, but more importantly, the why. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the best practices and how to create journey maps that not only illuminate the user experience but also inspire innovative solutions that truly meet user needs. Let’s dig in!

At its core, journey mapping is a strategic framework that captures the story of a user’s experience with a product or service from start to finish. This narrative is not a mere chronological account but a rich tapestry woven from the user’s interactions, emotions, and decisions at various touchpoints. 

Through visualizing the user’s journey, this tool illuminates the critical moments that define the user experience, offering a unique lens through which to view the product or service. It’s a tool that transcends traditional analytics, providing a holistic view of the user experience that is both insightful and actionable.

There are typically four types of journey maps:

  • Current State: These maps visualize the actions, thoughts, and emotions your customers currently experience with your company, ideal for ongoing improvement.
  • Day in the Life: This type offers a broader lens into customers’ daily lives, identifying potential unmet needs.
  • Future State: These maps help visualize potential future interactions with your company, aiding in strategic planning.
  • Service Blueprint: Starting with a simplified journey map, this type layers on the factors responsible for delivering the experience, such as people, policies, and technologies

Journey mapping is more than a tool; it’s a compass that guides the design thinking process towards user-centric solutions. It brings to light the intricate web of needs, desires, and frustrations that shape user behavior, offering a foundation upon which to build empathetic and effective design strategies. 

A Forrester study highlighted the significance of customer experience, showing that companies excelling in this area outperform their counterparts, with CX leaders experiencing significantly higher stock price growth and total returns compared to CX laggards and even the S&P 500 index over a one-year period.

The insights gleaned from these journey maps extend beyond mere problem-solving, fostering a culture of innovation that places the user at the heart of every decision. This alignment of cross-functional teams around a shared understanding of the user experience is a catalyst for change, driving the development of products and services that resonate on a deeply personal level.

Best Practices for Journey Mapping

To ensure your journey mapping efforts are both effective and efficient, consider the following best practices as your guide:

Before diving into journey mapping, it’s crucial to define what you aim to achieve. Are you looking to enhance the user experience, streamline the user journey, or identify new service opportunities? Employ frameworks like SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals to provide a structured approach to defining what you want to achieve. This clarity ensures your journey mapping efforts are aligned with broader business goals and provides a concrete starting point for your project.

A journey map is only as good as the data it’s based on. To create an effective journey map, it’s crucial to gather both qualitative and quantitative data. As per insights from the Nielsen Norman Group , this combination enriches your understanding of user behavior and motivations by blending numerical data with the nuanced context of personal user experiences. Collect a mix of qualitative and quantitative data to gain a well-rounded understanding of the user experience. User interviews, ethnographic research, and direct observations provide deep insights into user emotions and motivations, while analytics and usage data offer objective measures of user behavior and interaction patterns.

Involving a diverse group of stakeholders can significantly enhance the quality of your journey map. Case studies, such as those from the Project Management Institute , illustrate how diverse stakeholder involvement leads to more successful outcomes by incorporating a range of perspectives and expertise. This collaborative approach ensures that the journey map reflects a holistic understanding of the user experience.

Map out the entire user journey, from initial awareness through to post-purchase behavior and long-term loyalty. Consider the concept of “micro-moments” introduced by Google. This comprehensive view helps identify not only the immediate pain points and delights but also the broader context of the user experience, revealing deeper insights into user needs and opportunities for innovation.

Beyond the physical or digital steps a user takes, pay close attention to the emotional journey. It is as important as the physical or digital steps a user takes. Documenting how users feel at each stage of their journey can uncover hidden pain points and moments of delight that might not be obvious from actions alone. These emotional insights are often the key to creating truly engaging and satisfying user experiences.

Your journey map should be easy to understand at a glance, with a clear structure and visual cues that guide the viewer through the user journey. Utilize user-friendly visualization tools like Lucidchart or Adobe XD to create your journey maps. These tools offer features that facilitate clear, intuitive representations of the user journey, making your maps accessible to stakeholders with varying levels of expertise.

A journey map is not a one-time project but a living document that should evolve as you gather more data and as your product or service changes. Regularly revisiting and updating the journey map ensures that it remains relevant and continues to provide valuable insights into the user experience.

To translate journey map insights into actionable strategies, consider using prioritization methodologies like the ICE (Impact, Confidence, Ease) scoring system. This helps in deciding which insights to act upon first, based on their potential impact, your confidence in achieving them, and the ease of implementation.

Share your journey map and its findings with the broader team and stakeholders to ensure that everyone has a shared understanding of the user experience. Use the journey map as a communication tool to foster empathy for users and to align team efforts around user-centric goals.

Finally, use the journey mapping process as an opportunity to reflect on your design thinking practices and learn from both the successes and challenges. Each journey map can provide valuable lessons that inform not only the current project but also future initiatives.

design process user journey

Now that we’ve explored the best practices for journey mapping, let’s delve into the tools and techniques that can facilitate this process. 

The choice of tools can significantly impact the efficiency and effectiveness of your journey mapping efforts, enabling you to capture and analyze user experiences in more depth.

  • Digital Mapping Software: Platforms like UXPressia and Miro offer collaborative features and multimedia integration, making it easier to create, share, and iterate on journey maps.
  • Workshops and Brainstorming: Engage cross-functional teams in interactive sessions using whiteboards or digital platforms to collectively map out user journeys, fostering creativity and team alignment.
  • User Narratives and Storytelling: Craft compelling stories around user personas based on real interviews and research to bring the user experience to life for stakeholders.
  • Customer Feedback: Utilize surveys and interviews to gather direct insights from users, enriching your journey map with authentic user perspectives.
  • Analytics: Leverage tools like Google Analytics to obtain quantitative data on user behavior, identifying patterns and pain points in the user journey.
  • Empathy Mapping: Complement journey maps with empathy maps to delve deeper into users’ thoughts and feelings, enhancing your understanding of their experiences.

By integrating these tools and techniques, you can create more nuanced and actionable journey maps, driving towards solutions that genuinely meet user needs.

Overcoming Common Challenges in Journey Mapping

The path to an effective journey map is fraught with challenges, from the elusive nature of complete data to the inherent biases that color our perceptions. Overcoming these obstacles requires a combination of rigor, openness, and creativity, ensuring that the journey map is not just a reflection of what we think we know, but a true representation of the user experience. 

One of the most significant challenges in journey mapping is ensuring the completeness and objectivity of the data collected. Relying on limited data sources or allowing personal biases to influence the mapping process can lead to an inaccurate representation of the user journey.

  • Solution: Incorporating various data sources, such as customer feedback, surveys, analytics, and customer service records, can provide a comprehensive view of the customer’s experience. This approach enables the identification of pain points and opportunities for improvement, ensuring a more accurate representation of the customer journey

Getting all stakeholders on board and aligned with the findings and implications of the journey map can be challenging, especially in larger organizations with diverse interests.

  • Solution: Engaging stakeholders early in the journey mapping process and maintaining clear communication about the benefits and findings of the journey mapping can foster alignment and buy-in across departments. Involving representatives from sales, marketing, customer service, and product development ensures that all perspectives are considered, making the journey map a collaborative effort that reflects the comprehensive customer experience .

The user journey can be incredibly complex, with numerous touchpoints and variables. Capturing and representing this complexity in a way that is both comprehensive and comprehensible can be daunting.

  • Solution: Focusing on key stages and touchpoints that significantly impact the user experience is essential. Employing clear visuals and annotations can help convey complex information in an accessible manner, making it easier for teams to understand and act upon the insights gathered from the journey map​ .

As products, services, and user behaviors evolve, keeping the journey map current can be challenging, risking the map becoming outdated and less relevant.

  • Solution: Treat the journey map as a living document that is regularly reviewed and updated. Establish a schedule for revisiting the journey map and adjusting it based on new insights, changes in the product/service, or shifts in user behavior.

Identifying insights from the journey map is one thing; translating these insights into actionable design improvements and strategic decisions is another.

  • Solution: Prioritize insights based on their potential impact on the user experience and the organization’s strategic goals. Develop clear action plans for addressing these insights, assigning responsibility and setting timelines to ensure implementation.

Acknowledging and addressing these challenges can maximize the value of journey mapping in your design thinking process, leading to more insightful, user-centered design solutions.

As we venture forth, armed with the tools and techniques of journey mapping, we are reminded of the transformative power of walking in another’s shoes, of seeing the world through their eyes. It is in this profound connection that the true essence of design thinking is realized—not merely in the solutions we craft, but in the lives we touch and the experiences we enrich. 

Let this guide be a compass in your journey, illuminating paths not just to better products, but to a deeper understanding of the human experience itself.

  • How detailed should a journey map be?

The level of detail in a journey map should strike a balance between comprehensiveness and clarity. While it’s important to capture the nuances of the user experience, the map should remain accessible and actionable, avoiding information overload that can obscure key insights.

  • How do you choose which user persona to map?

Choosing a user persona for mapping involves identifying the segments of your audience that are most critical to your project’s success or those that represent significant opportunities or challenges. The selection process should be guided by strategic objectives, ensuring that the journey map focuses on areas of greatest impact.

  • Can journey maps be used for services and digital products alike?

Journey maps are a versatile tool that can be applied across a wide range of contexts, from physical products and services to digital experiences. The fundamental principles of journey mapping—empathy, insight, and action—remain constant, regardless of the medium.

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Why All UX Designers Should Be Creating User Journeys, And Here’s How to Make One

Inspirational image navigating a journey

Good design is all about the user. If designers truly want to create the best products, it’s important for them to see the product from the user’s perspective. That’s where a tool called a user journey comes in. It’s a powerful combination of storytelling and visualization that helps designers identify opportunities to create new and improved experiences for their users. In this article, I’ll introduce a concept of user journey along with some tips and specific examples.

What Is A User Journey?

A user journey is a visualization of the process that a person goes through in order to accomplish a goal. Typically, it’s presented as a series of steps in which a person interacts with a product. As opposed to the customer journey , which analyzes the steps before and after using the product , user journey only examines what happens inside the app/website. In context of e-commerce website, for example. user journey can consist of a number of pages and decision points that carry the user from one step to another in attempt to purchase a product.

What’s Required to Create A User Journey?

The following elements are required to create a user journey:

  • Persona: User journeys are tied back to personas. To create a realistic user journey, it is important to first identify the users and create personas for them. When creating a user journey, it’s recommended to use one persona per journey in order to provide a strong, clear narrative.
  • Goal and Scenario: The exact goal to which the given journey belongs. The scenario presents a situation in which the persona tries to accomplish something. User journey is best for scenarios that describe a sequence of events, like purchasing something.
  • Context: A context is defined by a set of facts that surround a scenario, like the physical environment in which the experience is taking place. Where is the user? What is around them? Are there any other factors which may distract them?

What Does A User Journey Look Like?

A user journey can take a wide variety of forms depending on the context and your business goals. In its most basic form, a user journey is presented as a series of user steps and actions following a timeline skeleton. This kind of layout makes it easier for all team members to understand and follow the narrative. A simple user journey only reflects one possible path during one scenario. A complex user journey can encompass experiences occurring during different times and scenarios.

While user journey maps can (and should) take a wide variety of forms, certain elements are generally included:

  • A title summarizing the journey (e.g. ‘Purchasing an electronic device in the e-commerce store’)
  • A picture of the persona the journey relates to.
  • A series of steps. Everything real-world users would do as a separate activity counts as a step. Steps should provide a sense of progression (each step should enable the persona to get to the next one).
  • An illustration of what’s happening in the step. This illustration includes touchpoints (times when a persona in the journey actually interacts with a product) and channels (methods of communication, such as the website or mobile app). For example, for the touchpoint ‘pay for product,’ the channels associated with this touchpoint could be ‘pay online’ or ‘pay in person.’
  • The persona’s emotional state at each step. A user journey is the most important tool for designing emotions; at the heart of a user journey is what the user is doing, thinking, and feeling during each step. Are users engaged, frustrated, or confused? Emotional experiences can be supplemented with quotes from your research.

How Does A User Journey Fit Into The UX Design Process?

User journeys are typically created at the beginning of a project — during the product analysis phase , after personas are defined. Along with personas they can be one of the key design deliverables from this phase.

A user journey can be used to demonstrate either current or future user behavior:

  • When a user journey is used to show the current user behavior (the way users currently interact with the product) it should provide a clear view of how easy or difficult it is for a typical user to reach their goal.
  • When a user journey demonstrates the future state of the product (a ‘to-be’ experience), it should highlight any changes to pain points that a future solution will solve.

Why Should Designers Use a User Journey?

A user journey is used for understanding and addressing user needs and pain points. The entire point of the user journey is to understand user behavior, uncover gaps in the user experience, and then take action to optimize the experience.

There are many other benefits for designers when they invest time in user journeys. Properly-created user journeys can help designers better:

  • Communicate design decisions to stakeholders: As a document, a user journey can be used to clearly explain the strengths and weaknesses of the product in terms of UX.
  • Prioritize features: User journeys helps identify possible functionality at a high level. By understanding the key user’s tasks, it’s possible to define functional requirements that will help enable those tasks. This helps product teams scope out pieces of functionality in more detail and speed up the planning of a new version of the product.

On a company level, user journeys can:

  • Shift a company’s view: Since user journeys are shorthand for the overall user experience, it’s possible to leverage them as a supporting component of an experience strategy. Creating a user journey could be the first step in building a solid plan of action to invest in UX and create one shared organization-wide vision.
  • Promote collaboration between different departments: Because a user journey creates a vision of the entire user journey, it becomes a tool for creating cross-departmental conversation and collaboration. User journeys can engage stakeholders from across departments and spur collaborative conversation.

8 Tips for Creating and Using A User Journey

Before Creating A User Journey

1. A User Journey Should Have A Business Goal behind It

Each user journey should always be created to support a known business goal. A user journey that doesn’t align with a business goal won’t result in applicable insight. That’s why identification of the business goal that the user journey will support should be the first step in the process.

2. A User Journey Should Be Based on User Research

The effectiveness and importance of a user journey depends heavily on the quality of insights it provides. User journeys should be built from both qualitative and quantitative findings. The process of creating a user journey has to begin with getting to know users. If designers don’t have enough information to create a good user journey, they should conduct additional journey-based research (such as ethnographic research) to gain insights into the user experience.

When Creating A User Journey

3. Don’t Jump Straight to Visualization

The temptation to create an aesthetic graphic can lead to beautiful yet flawed user journeys. It’s recommended to start with sticky notes on a wall or visualize the path with a simple spreadsheet. It’s important to experiment and not accept the first idea as the best.

4. Don’t Make It Too Complex

While designing user journey it’s easy to get caught up in the multiple routes a user might take. Unfortunately, this often leads to a busy user journey. It’s recommended to start with a simple, linear journey (an ideal way to get the users to the given goal). Also, it’s better to avoid focusing too hard on a series of pages users go through. Instead, review what the users usually do and in what order.

5. More Ideas Lead to Better Design

It’s essential to involve all team members in the process of creating a user journey. The activity of creating a user journey (not the output itself) is the most valuable part of the process, and it’s helpful to have stakeholder participants from many areas of the organization involved in this activity. Mixing people who otherwise never communicate with each other can be extremely valuable, especially in large organizations.

Team working together on a project

Use Your User Journey

6. Assign Ownership

All too often, areas of negative friction in user journeys exist simply because no internal team or person is responsible for this area. Without ownership, no one has the responsibility or empowerment to change anything. That’s why it’s important to assign ownership for different parts of the journey map (e.g. key touchpoints) to internal departments or directly to responsible individuals.

7. Socialize Stakeholders

Getting stakeholders comfortable with user journeys is critical in moving your organization toward action. Reference your user journey during meetings and conversations to promote a narrative that others believe in and begin to use on a regular basis.

8. Maintain Journeys Over Time

Set a time each quarter or year to evaluate how your current user experience matches your documented user journeys. Consider when you may need to update the journey (such as after a major product release when the behavior of a user may change).

User journeys create a holistic view of user experience and this makes them an essential component in the process of designing a new product or improving the design of an existing one. By leveraging user journeys as a supporting component of an experience strategy it’s possible to keep users at the heart of all design decisions.

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How to design a customer journey map (A step-by-step guide)

A customer journey map is a visual representation of how a user interacts with your product. Learn how to create a customer journey map in this practical step-by-step guide.

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Successful UX design is rooted in empathy. The best designers are able to step into their users’ shoes and imagine what they think, feel, and experience as they interact with a product or service. 

One of the most effective ways to foster user empathy and consider different perspectives is to create customer journey maps—otherwise known as customer journey maps.

If you’re new to journey mapping, look no further than this guide. We’ll explain:

  • What is a customer journey map?

Why create customer journey maps?

When to create customer journey maps, what are the elements of a customer journey map, how to create a customer journey map (step-by-step).

If you want to skip straight to the how-to guide, just use the clickable menu to jump ahead. Otherwise, let’s begin with a definition. 

[GET CERTIFIED IN UX]

What is a customer journey map? 

A customer journey map (otherwise known as a user journey map) is a visual representation of how a user or customer interacts with your product. It maps out the steps they go through to complete a specific task or to achieve a particular goal—for example, purchasing a product from an e-commerce website or creating a profile on a dating app. 

Where does their journey begin? What’s their first point of interaction with the product? What actions and steps do they take to reach their end goal? How do they feel at each stage? 

You can answer all of those questions with a user journey map.

user journey map

A user journey map template from Miro . 

Creating customer journey maps helps to:

  • Centre the end user and foster empathy. Creating a user/customer journey map requires you to step into the end user’s shoes and experience the product from their perspective. This reminds you to consider the user at all times and fosters empathy.
  • Expose pain-points in the user experience. By viewing the product from the user’s perspective, you quickly become aware of pain-points or stumbling blocks within the user experience. Based on this insight, you can improve the product accordingly.
  • Uncover design opportunities. User journey maps don’t just highlight pain-points; they can also inspire new ideas and opportunities. As you walk in your end user’s shoes, you might think “Ah! An [X] feature would be great here!”
  • Get all key stakeholders aligned. User journey maps are both visual and concise, making them an effective communication tool. Anybody can look at a user journey map and instantly understand how the user interacts with the product. This helps to create a shared understanding of the user experience, building alignment among multiple stakeholders. 

Ultimately, user journey maps are a great way to focus on the end user and understand how they experience your product. This helps you to create better user experiences that meet your users’ needs. 

User journey maps can be useful at different stages of the product design process. 

Perhaps you’ve got a fully-fledged product that you want to review and optimise, or completely redesign. You can create journey maps to visualise how your users currently interact with the product, helping you to identify pain-points and inform the next iteration of the product. 

You can also create user journey maps at the ideation stage. Before developing new ideas, you might want to visualise them in action, mapping out potential user journeys to test their validity. 

And, once you’ve created user journey maps, you can use them to guide you in the creation of wireframes and prototypes . Based on the steps mapped out in the user journey, you can see what touchpoints need to be included in the product and where. 

No two user journey maps are the same—you can adapt the structure and content of your maps to suit your needs. But, as a rule, user journey maps should include the following: 

  • A user persona. Each user journey map represents the perspective of just one user persona. Ideally, you’ll base your journey maps on UX personas that have been created using real user research data.
  • A specific scenario. This describes the goal or task the journey map is conveying—in other words, the scenario in which the user finds themselves. For example, finding a language exchange partner on an app or returning a pair of shoes to an e-commerce company.
  • User expectations. The goal of a user journey map is to see things from your end user’s perspective, so it’s useful to define what their expectations are as they complete the task you’re depicting.
  • High-level stages or phases. You’ll divide the user journey into all the broad, high-level stages a user goes through. Imagine you’re creating a user journey map for the task of booking a hotel via your website. The stages in the user’s journey might be: Discover (the user discovers your website), Research (the user browses different hotel options), Compare (the user weighs up different options), Purchase (the user books a hotel).
  • Touchpoints. Within each high-level phase, you’ll note down all the touchpoints the user comes across and interacts with. For example: the website homepage, a customer service agent, the checkout page.
  • Actions. For each stage, you’ll also map out the individual actions the user takes. This includes things like applying filters, filling out user details, and submitting payment information.
  • Thoughts. What is the user thinking at each stage? What questions do they have? For example: “I wonder if I can get a student discount” or “Why can’t I filter by location?”
  • Emotions. How does the user feel at each stage? What emotions do they go through? This includes things like frustration, confusion, uncertainty, excitement, and joy.
  • Pain-points. A brief note on any hurdles and points of friction the user encounters at each stage.
  • Opportunities. Based on everything you’ve captured in your user journey map so far, what opportunities for improvement have you uncovered? How can you act upon your insights and who is responsible for leading those changes? The “opportunities” section turns your user journey map into something actionable. 

Here’s how to create a user journey map in 6 steps:

  • Choose a user journey map template (or create your own)
  • Define your persona and scenario
  • Outline key stages, touchpoints, and actions 
  • Fill in the user’s thoughts, emotions, and pain-points
  • Identify opportunities 
  • Define action points and next steps

Let’s take a closer look.

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1. Choose a user journey map template (or create your own)

The easiest way to create a user journey map is to fill in a ready-made template. Tools like Miro , Lucidchart , and Canva all offer user/customer journey map templates that you can fill in directly or customise to make your own. 

Here’s an example of a user journey map template from Canva:

canva user journey map

2. Define your persona and scenario

Each user journey map you create should represent a specific user journey from the perspective of a specific user persona. So: determine which UX persona will feature in your journey map, and what scenario they’re in. In other words, what goal or task are they trying to complete?

Add details of your persona and scenario at the top of your user journey map. 

3. Outline key stages, actions, and touchpoints

Now it’s time to flesh out the user journey itself. First, consider the user scenario you’re conveying and think about how you can divide it into high-level phases. 

Within each phase, identify the actions the user takes and the touchpoints they interact with. 

Take, for example, the scenario of signing up for a dating app. You might divide the process into the following key phases: Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Service, and Advocacy . 

Within the Awareness phase, possible user actions might be: Hears about the dating app from friends, Sees an Instagram advert for the app, Looks for blog articles and reviews online. 

4. Fill in the user’s thoughts, emotions, and pain-points

Next, step even further into your user’s shoes to imagine what they may be thinking and feeling at each stage, as well as what pain-points might get in their way. 

To continue with our dating app example, the user’s thoughts during the Awareness phase might be: “ I’ve never used online dating before but maybe I should give this app a try…”

As they’re new to online dating, they may be feeling both interested and hesitant. 

While looking for blog articles and reviews, the user struggles to find anything helpful or credible. This can be added to your user journey map under “pain-points”. 

5. Identify opportunities

Now it’s time to turn your user pain-points into opportunities. In our dating app example, we identified that the user wanted to learn more about the app before signing up but couldn’t find any useful articles or reviews online.

How could you turn this into an opportunity? You might start to feature more dating app success stories on the company blog. 

Frame your opportunities as action points and state who will be responsible for implementing them.  

Here we’ve started to fill out the user journey map template for our dating app scenario:

dating app customer journey map

Repeat the process for each phase in the user journey until your map is complete.

6. Define action points and next steps 

User journey maps are great for building empathy and getting you to see things from your user’s perspective. They’re also an excellent tool for communicating with stakeholders and creating a shared understanding around how different users experience your product. 

Once your user journey map is complete, be sure to share it with all key stakeholders and talk them through the most relevant insights. 

And, most importantly, turn those insights into clear action points. Which opportunities will you tap into and who will be involved? How will your user journey maps inform the evolution of your product? What are your next steps? 

Customer journey maps in UX: the takeaway

That’s a wrap for user journey maps! With a user journey map template and our step-by-step guide, you can easily create your own maps and use them to inspire and inform your product design process. 

For more how-to guides, check out:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Storyboarding in UX
  • How to Design Effective User Surveys for UX Research
  • How to Conduct User Interviews

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Customer Journey Maps: What They Are and How to Build One

Customer journey maps are a visual storytelling tool used to help designers empathize with users and identify actionable opportunities for providing a better user experience.

Customer Journey Maps: What They Are and How to Build One

By Bree Chapin

Bree’s a passionate designer and problem-solver with 10+ years experience in product and UXUI design for web and native mobile applications.

PREVIOUSLY AT

When a customer uses a company’s products and services to achieve a goal or need, they are going on a journey from point A to point Z. A customer journey map charts the path a user takes from the beginning of this journey to the satisfaction of that need.

Mapping out the customer journey is an effective way to understand what turns a viewer into a long-term, loyal customer. – Kofi Senaya, Director of Product at Clearbridge Mobile

Understanding a user’s needs is the bedrock of great design. User experience and product designers draw upon a range of tools and methods for uncovering the needs of their users and designing a product that meets those needs.

The customer journey map is one such tool to deploy in the early stages of the design process to help empathize with users and identify opportunities for providing a better experience.

Smithsonian multichannel customer journey map

What Is a Journey Map?

“Journey mapping combines two powerful instruments: storytelling and visualization,” according to Kat Kaplan in When and How to Create Customer Journey Maps . A customer journey map can take a variety of forms, but essentially, it is a visual representation of a customer’s experience with a product or company at various touchpoints over time.

A Customer Journey map is a visual or graphic interpretation of the overall story from an individual’s perspective of their relationship with an organization, service, product or brand, over time and across channels. […] The story is told from the customer’s perspective, but also emphasizes the important intersections between user expectations and business requirements – Megan Grocki at UX Mastery

A customer journey maps help designers and other stakeholders empathize with the needs of their customers, triangulate pain points that their users experience, and identify opportunities for improvement and innovation. Most customer journey maps attempt to track the customer’s potential emotions during the experience: curiosity, confusion, anxiety, frustration, relief, etc.

The quest to understand the target user or customer is not new or specific to the digital landscape. Disney, arguably the masters of great customer experience, began mapping out their customers’ multi-channel engagement—from movies to toys to theme parks—decades ago.

The terms “journey map” and “experience map” are often used interchangeably in the design community, although some designers draw a line between the two terms. As the debate rolls on, it is perhaps less important to debate the distinctions than to focus on the essential goal of mapping out and better understanding the customer journey.

Disney customer experience map 1957

A customer journey map can focus on a single task or experience, such as mapping out a payment flow, or can cover the full life cycle of a customer’s initial engagement and continued retention. A product journey map lays out a customer’s interactions with a particular product.

B2B SaaS client experience map

The journey map design may center on a specific feature or app, or it may follow the customer’s experience at each touchpoint across a company’s service ecosystem. If a company relies on multiple channels and various touchpoints for customer service, for example, a map can help identify when best to escalate a customer email to phone support.

User journey maps help designers and stakeholders empathize with a user’s motivations and experiences from point A to Z and beyond. Like any other maps, a customer journey map helps one understand where the customer is and how to help get them where they want to go.

Customer journey map

A customer journey map helps designers and stakeholders figure out what questions to ask but does not immediately answer them. One should approach the customer journey mapping process as an act of discovery, where the exercise itself illuminates the path to take.

Since the map is meant to be a catalyst, not a conclusion, the takeaways drive the next phase of the design or strategy by illuminating the journey, and helping to identify the opportunities, pain points, and calls to action. This will depend on what your next steps are, driving strategy or tactical design. – Adam Ramshaw at Genroe

Mapping is an exercise of connecting concepts and data to each other. In the case of customer journey maps, designers should be looking at how the customer’s intent maps to the flow of interaction provided at various touchpoints and seeing more clearly how they are connected or disjointed.

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How to Create a Customer Journey Map

Start with user research.

All great design begins with research, whether analytical or anecdotal. The more one knows about a customer and their needs, the more accurate a map will be.

Conducting proper research will help designers avoid basing assumptions about their users on false consensus. “The false-consensus effect refers to people’s tendency to assume that others share their beliefs and will behave similarly in a given context,” according to Raluca Bidiu in You Are Not the User: The False Consensus Effect .

Feedback surveys are direct ways of asking users about their needs and what they’re already doing to meet those needs. User interviews open up the opportunity, not just in order to ask a lot of questions but to also observe what the users are not saying about their needs.

Customers will respond to a product within the framework of completing a particular task. This means the customer journey starts before users even engage with a single product and continues after they leave. Capturing a customer’s perception of their experience relative to their goals and needs informs how a designer can improve upon it.

Customer journey maps then use storytelling and visualization to map out the customer’s experience over time with the product, which aids the design team in identifying actionable opportunities for improving the experience.

design process user journey

Looking at more quantitative analytical data can provide valuable insights into the product’s users as well. For example, is there a significant drop off in user engagement at a particular screen in the subscriber sign-up experience? A clear user journey map might help designers understand what’s happening and if there are any gaps in the overall experience.

design process user journey

There is also great value in conducting competitive and comparative research. Observe how users engage with existing products and solutions. Mapping out a competitor’s customer experience as a story can be far more revealing than looking at a flat feature table.

One should also leverage others in their organization. Anyone who interacts with customers or their feedback should be interviewed: point-of-service providers, customer support specialists, error message report handlers, etc. Getting the other side of the story is a surprisingly effective way of understanding where customers are experiencing confusion or frustration.

Identify the Lens of the Experience

Before one begins mapping out a customer experience , one must define what the question to be examined is. After synthesizing the research, one should be able to understand the scope or timeline of the experience.

Remember that customers are not considering the experience of a company from just one microinteraction; every touchpoint at which they come into contact with someone’s products and services is part of a larger, comprehensive experience.

customer journey model with digital and physical touchpoints

Does research reveal that customers show high initial satisfaction with a company’s eCommerce site that tapers off after the first transaction? Are customers enjoying a responsive website, but deleting the native app after first launch? How does a company foster loyalty in its publication readers and keep them coming back?

Mapping out the customer journey across each channel helps designers survey and optimize the overall experience. This may even mean looking at how the overall experience involves other platforms and services. For example, an eCommerce experience may begin with a search engine such as Google before the customer even gets to a company’s own website.

Rail Europe customer journey map

To solve for a specific problem or pain point for the customer, it may make sense to focus an experience mapping exercise on that flow. This does not mean, however, that the map can’t be complex—a payment experience for a company that offers both online and in-store shopping can cross multiple channels of service.

Building a map out for each touchpoint segment allows the team to research the component parts that make up the whole story more deeply. Focus the lens on specific segments or points in time of the customer journey while keeping the holistic experience in mind. By mapping out the experience across these channels, one can begin to suss out if the snag is isolated to an online payment processor or is something more systemic.

The Customer Journey Mapping Process

Now that the prep work surveying the landscape has been completed, it is time to draw out the customer journey map. It is advisable to begin by scribbling the basics out on paper before moving into user journey mapping tools like Sketch or Omnigraffle.

Specify the timeline lens and plot out the user’s main goal at the beginning of the customer journey map, and whatever constitutes a success at the end. This does not have to be linear; for example, points in a repeatable experience can be plotted along a circle. Begin to fill in what the high-level steps are that the user is meant to take to get from point A to point Z.

cyclical user experience journey map for mobile

Once the outline is laid out, try to group steps into stages. For example, if a user is trying to book a hotel room, one might group searching activities with browsing activities as the “research” stages of the journey. This will help you further contextualize and link the user’s motivations and actions.

If you’re looking at a multi-channel journey, for instance, you may also want to plot what happens at each of these stages within each channel. How does customer service escalate a service request? How does an online purchase system connect with an in-store return? What are the best ways to guide the user who must initiate a rideshare service with an app, and then later perform further actions to complete their task?

Customer journey map for Uber

Most journey maps will also try to track a customer’s emotions during each stage of the journey. Refer to research, especially insights from user interviews and customer support calls, to empathize with points of frustration as well as moments of delight in the experience.

Make sure the information included is clear and concise—easily digestible for the team and stakeholders. Refine the map down to the essential so that the insights it highlights are actionable.

Think of the customer journey map as a poster pinned to the office wall. At a glance, people should be able to see the key touchpoints that a user passes through. It should remind them that the customer’s needs must always be at the forefront of their thinking – Paul Boag of Smashing Magazine

The Importance of Customer Journey Maps

The success of a customer journey map can be measured by how well it helps the team identify pain points, as well as opportunities for improvement as it traces the customer’s path from start to finish. A successful map provides an honest assessment of a company’s existing products and services, then helps spark ideas on how the customer’s needs can be better met.

Present the map to the design and development team as well as stakeholders. Look at the map with an honest, analytical eye. Connect customers’ emotions, such as frustration, with the motivations and expectations guiding the user’s actions. Look for gaps between various channels of your business where the experience falls through. Refer back to the customer journey map repeatedly throughout the design process to validate potential solutions.

A journey map is meant to empathize with customers and identify problems and opportunities; not solve them. The customer journey map is a living, ever-evolving map of a customer’s interactions with the products and services a company has to offer. New touchpoints may be created and customer journey designs re-routed as the team iterates, tests, and validates new solutions.

Use a customer journey map to develop better empathy with customers, leverage user research to identify potential pitfalls in the product journey, and guide the team to craft a more cohesive, seamless user experience, whether this experience is focused on one interaction or occurs across multiple channels.

Further Reading on the Toptal Blog:

  • E-commerce UX: An Overview of Best Practices (with Infographic)
  • The Best UX Designer Portfolios: Inspiring Case Studies and Examples
  • Heuristic Principles for Mobile Interfaces
  • The Importance of Human-centered Design in Product Design
  • Anticipatory Design: How to Create Magical User Experiences
  • Voice of the Customer: How to Leverage User Insights for Better UX
  • Product Design

Bree Chapin

New York, NY, United States

Member since May 15, 2016

About the author

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User journeys and user flows are both UX tools that capture how people accomplish goals with certain products or services. They share some similar traits. Both user journeys and user flows are:

  • Used during design ideation or evaluation activities for the purpose of understanding and optimizing experience.
  • Structured around a user goal and examined from the perspective of the user or customer (not a company or product).
  • Captured and communicated via UX- mapping methods .

Their main distinction, however, is the level of detail and focus for each: User journeys describe a user’s holistic, high-level experience across channels and over time. User flows zoom in to describe a set of specific, discrete interactions that make up a common user pathway through a product.

In This Article:

What is a user journey, what is a user flow, combining user journeys and user flows, comparison: user journeys vs. user flows.

User journey: (Or customer journey) A scenario-based sequence of the steps that a user takes in order to accomplish a high-level goal with a company or product, usually across channels and over time.

The underlying goal of a user journey is high-level. Describing the journey will involve understanding the experience of a user across many points of interaction, because, in a journey, users might use with multiple channels or sources of information.

Consider a new-patient journey as an example. For any person finding and evaluating a new doctor, there will be many touchpoints  over a long time (days, weeks, or months): researching information on the practice’s website, calling to schedule an appointment, receiving email communications, visiting the physical office, accessing information in a patient portal, and following up via phone if necessary.  

Sketched illustration of the high-level steps in a new-patient journey

Because of the complexity of the journey, contextualizing these actions with information about users’ emotions and thoughts can be useful for analyzing and optimizing the experience.

Journey maps are a common artifact for visualizing journeys, as they are narrative and descriptive. Effective journey maps don’t just relay the steps taken to achieve a goal; they tell a user-centered story about the process.

Illustration of a hypothetical new-patient journey map

The best research methods for journey mapping are usually context methods , such as field studies and diary studies , which uncover longer-term user goals and behaviors in the moment. These methods can be combined with user interviews to uncover first-hand frustrations and needs.

Definition: A user flow is a set of interactions that describe the typical or ideal set of steps needed to accomplish a common task performed with a product.

Compared to a user journey, the underlying goal of a user flow is much more granular, and the focus is narrowed to a specific objective within one product.

Some appropriate goals to capture in user flows might be: purchasing a tennis racket on a sporting goods site, signing up for email updates on a credit-score-monitoring application, or updating a profile picture on a company’s intranet. These goals can be accomplished in the short-term (minutes or hours, at the most), and with a relatively limited set of interactions.

User flows can be represented with artifacts such as low-fidelity wireflows , simple flow charts, or task diagrams. These maps capture key user steps and system responses; they do not contextualize the process with emotions and thoughts like a journey map does.

Sketched illustration of the high-level steps and screens in a user flow for viewing test results in a patient portal

The best research method for obtaining the data to map user flows is usability testing , which allows us to watch users interacting directly with the product in directed scenarios. As with user journeys, tools that capture analytics (e.g., click heatmaps) are a useful secondary source of insights.

It’s often useful to capture both user journeys and user flows and combine them to understand both macro- and micro-level views of experience. User flows can be thought of as a deep dive into specific areas of the high-level user journey.

For example, let’s go back to the high-level activities that make up the new-patient journey described earlier. Some of those activities entail using digital products (e.g., researching information on the practice website, accessing results in the patient portal). By documenting the associated user flows for these goals, we could further understand the micro-level experience in context of the greater journey.

Sketched illustration showing how the user flow for viewing test results in a patient portal is a deep dive within the overall new-patient user journey

Unfortunately, most teams do not have systematic processes in place to connect these views, due to gaps in internal team structures, lack of holistic measurement programs, or plain lack of capacity and competency to do the work.

The main differences between user journeys and user flows are captured in the table below:

To determine whether a user journey or a user flow is best for your specific context, consider the following questions:

  • Does your user process involve more than one channel or more than one, known product (e.g., your company’s website)? User journeys are best for capturing activities dispersed over multiple channels; user flows are well-suited for interactions within one product.
  • Can users generally accomplish the goal in minutes or hours, at the most, or will they need to complete activities over days, weeks, or months? User journeys are better for communicating activities over longer periods of time; user flows are better for relatively short-term goals.
  • Will it be critical to understand not only the actions but the emotions and thoughts of users across more complex decision-making? User journeys capture those; user flows are limited to sequences of steps, with no additional information about users’ emotional states.

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17 UX Design Principles to Follow for Creating a Great User Experience

17 UX Design Principles to Follow for Creating a Great User Experience cover

Functionality is a must when it comes to attracting customers, but it’s user experience that helps you retain them.

Wondering how to create an outstanding user experience ?

Read this article to discover 17 UX design principles to drive customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Let’s dive right in!

  • UX design identifies user needs, wants, and pain points and creates engaging products that enable them to achieve their goals. UX design principles are guidelines that aid the process.
  • By following the principles, you can increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. Products with good UX are easier and cheaper to support and stand out in competitive markets.
  • The 17 UX design principles:
  • Follow a customer-centric approach by researching users’ needs and designing solutions to address them.
  • Create consistency by aligning product functionality with user expectations and making the design predictable across all touchpoints .
  • Consider the context of how the product will be used and by whom.
  • Create a visual hierarchy in the user interface to guide users’ attention to important elements.
  • Populate empty states with helpful content like guides or video tutorials .
  • Personalize experiences through customized dashboards , localized content , and contextual guidance.
  • Give users control over their experiences by allowing setting and workflow customization.
  • Incorporate accessibility features like high contrast, alt text, and adjustable fonts.
  • Enhance product usability by focusing on user satisfaction, error prevention, learnability, efficiency, and memorability.
  • Keep user interfaces simple and intuitive to reduce cognitive load.
  • Ensure the copy is clear and easy to understand, using AI writing tools if needed.
  • Consistently collect user feedback through in-app surveys and feedback widgets.
  • Use progressive disclosure to avoid overwhelming users with information.
  • Employ product analytics to spot friction in the customer journey.
  • Workflow automation and task simplification are examples of how to improve design speed and efficiency.
  • Create a responsive design that adapts to different devices and screen sizes.
  • Ensure customer support is readily available through multiple channels, both high- and low-touch .
  • Want to learn how to implement these principles with Userpilot? Book the demo!

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What are UX design principles?

A UX design principle is a guideline that helps you create seamless, efficient, and enjoyable experiences for users.

The principles shape the UX design process and help designers make the right decisions and prioritize user needs.

Why is it important to follow UX principles?

Following UX principles offers multiple benefits.

Good UX design helps users improve their productivity and efficiency in achieving their goals. It also makes the user experience intuitive and enjoyable.

This increases their satisfaction , which is linked to higher customer loyalty and retention .

Outstanding UX can improve your brand reputation and help you attract new customers. And convert them into paying accounts through well-optimized landing pages and sign-up flows.

Finally, excellent UX reduces the load on the customer support teams. Clear and intuitive design flattens the learning curve and minimizes the risk of errors or issues, which lead to customer requests and inquiries.

17 principles of UX design all designers need to know

Without further ado, let’s delve into 17 essential UX design principles that no UX designer can afford to ignore.

1. Follow a customer-centric approach

User-centricity is about putting yourself in the shoes of your users to understand their needs and designing solutions that address them.

This starts with user research to identify the problems users try to solve and how your or other existing solutions fail to address them.

One way to do it is through in-app surveys . When run regularly, they can help you pinpoint customer pain points and identify opportunities to offer your customers a better experience.

Other research methods include user testing , interviews, focus groups, and user behavior analysis .

UX design principles: use surveys to learn about your users

2. Create consistency in your products

To offer an outstanding user experience, your product needs to be consistent :

Consistent with your customer expectations. For example, if they’re looking for a fitness tracker, it needs to have the relevant functionality, like activity or weight tracking.

Consistent in how it works. For instance, all screens and navigation should be the same so that the user knows exactly what to expect.

Such predictability reduces the time needed to master the product and derive its value .

3. Consider the context in the design process

When designing the UX, take into consideration the context in which the product will be used.

Some questions that can help you include:

  • Who is the user?
  • What are their goals ?
  • Where are they going to use the product? (e.g., office, home, commute, etc.)
  • What device are they likely to use?
  • What’s their emotional state when they use it?
  • Who is around? Possible disruptions?

4. Create a visual hierarchy in the user interface

Visual hierarchy is how you arrange and present design elements to signal importance. It helps guide users’ attention to the most critical parts of the interface first to make it easier for them to navigate and understand the content.

What variables can you manipulate to convey hierarchy?

  • Size and scale : Larger elements, like headlines, attract more attention.
  • Color and contrast : High-contrast elements, like CTA buttons, stand out more.
  • Typography : Bolded text or using different fonts are easier to notice.
  • Position and alignment : Elements at the top or in the center are seen as more important.
  • Movement : Animations catch the audience’s attention better than other visuals or text.

create a visual hierarchy

5. Populate empty states with helpful content

An empty state is the blank page that users often see when they log into the product for the first time . This often happens because they haven’t had a chance to import their data or customize their dashboards.

Such a blank slate is a terrible waste.

You can use it to start building a relationship with your user and kickstart the onboarding process.

For example, you could greet them with a welcome screen and add guides covering the core features needed to start using the product.

populate empty states with useful guides

6. Personalize experiences to meet user expectations

Personalization makes customers feel valued and understood. At the beginning of the user journey , it reassures them that they’ve chosen the right product.

More importantly, it helps them achieve their objectives.

Here are a few ways to personalize UX for your users:

  • Customized dashboards (populated with features and shortcuts linked to their use case, like in Canva).
  • Personalized onboarding (focusing on features relevant to their needs, like in Kontentino ).
  • Content localization .
  • Contextual in-app guidance (based on user behavior and the stage in the user journey).

personalize the product experience (e.g. through localization)

7. Give user control over their product experiences

In addition to anticipating user needs and making personalized recommendations, you can improve their UX by allowing them to customize their own experiences.

You can give users control over their experience by allowing them to:

  • Skip in-app flows and return to them at a later date.
  • Customize their theme and layout (e.g., dark mode).
  • Change notification settings.
  • Modify privacy settings so that they share only what they want with other users.
  • Create custom workflows or dashboards .

8. Incorporate accessibility into your visual design

When designing your UI, take into account users with different needs . For example, users with impaired vision may not be able to see text in certain colors.

Make the UX more accessible by:

  • Using high-contrast color patterns and avoiding color-only indicators.
  • Adding alt text with image descriptions.
  • Enabling adjustable font sizes and zoom functionality.
  • Using descriptive anchor texts (‘View your report’ instead of ‘Read here’)
  • Creating a logical tab order so users can navigate the UI with a keyboard only.

9. Enhance product usability to increase user engagement

To boost user engagement, improve your product usability by focusing on its 5 core elements:

  • Satisfaction (How pleasant is the product to use?)
  • Errors (How easy/difficult is it to make mistakes? How easy is it to recover?)
  • Learnability (How easy is it for users to complete basic actions the first time they log in?)
  • Efficiency (How quickly can they perform their tasks?)
  • Memorability (How easy is it to start using the product again after a break?)

element-of-usability

10. Keep the user interfaces simple and intuitive

Which is easier to use: a remote control with 5 or 50 buttons?

The 5-button one, as long as it includes all the necessary features.

The same applies to SaaS product UI .

The more options users have, the more time it takes them to complete tasks. That’s because a complex UI increases the cognitive load on users and makes it more difficult for users to make the right decisions.

Over time, it leads to fatigue and can even cause user churn .

11. Ensure the web page copy is clear and easy to understand

Poorly crafted website or in-app copy has the same impact on users as unintuitive UI. It makes it harder to access the necessary information, increases the time needed to complete actions, and is tiring for users in the long run.

The solution?

Work with a decent copywriter or use AI tools to make your copy concise and free of ambiguity, like Userpilot’s AI writing assistant , which allows you to create new microcopies or refine existing ones.

And once you have a few versions ready, run A/B tests to identify the best-performing copy.

UX design principles: use AI to make your copy clear and easy to understand

12. Consistently collect user feedback

User feedback can help you measure your customer satisfaction with your product UX.

The best way to collect it?

In-app surveys have the highest response rates and help you reach the actual users, which isn’t always the case with email surveys.

In addition to regular surveys, enable a feedback widget to collect passive feedback .

In this way, you give users a chance to submit their requests , ideas, and insights when they really need to, for example, when they experience usability issues.

Pro tip: add open-ended follow-up questions to the surveys to gather qualitative data and use AI to identify patterns in customer responses.

13. Use progressive disclosure to avoid overwhelming users

Presenting too much information or too many options at once can be overwhelming.

You can prevent it by breaking it down into smaller chunks and disclosing progressively .

Here’s an example of Userpilot’s survey builder.

There are quite a few things you need to set up before launching your survey, so we’ve divided them into 4 logically organized groups. Users can access them from a tab and easily find the needed settings.

14. Remove friction from the customer journey

Friction and good UX don’t go together.

It makes it more challenging and time-consuming for users to get their jobs done , which has a detrimental impact on their satisfaction.

How do you get rid of friction points from the user journey?

Use analytics to find them.

Funnels help you find the stage where users slow down or drop off . And with path, heatmap , and session recording analysis, you can pinpoint the cause .

Once you know what’s causing friction, you can address it. For example, with in-app guidance.

UX design principles: Use analytics to find friction

15. Design for speed and efficiency

In the SaaS context, speed and efficiency are critical because they allow your customers to save or earn money.

You can achieve this through:

  • Task simplification, for example, by reducing the number of steps needed to complete it.
  • Workflow automation .
  • Batch actions.
  • Keyboard shortcuts.
  • Auto-fill and auto-suggest.
  • Inline validation (to prevent errors).
  • Fast loading times.

16. Create a responsive design on different devices

Users likely interact with your product on various devices: desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobiles. So, make sure your product performs well on each of them.

Start with a responsive design so that the website or app screen layout adapts dynamically to the screen.

And make your product UI touch-friendly, for example, by ensuring the right button size.

17. Ensure customer support is readily available

Technical or usability issues are bound to happen but they don’t necessarily ruin the user experience if you can provide reliable customer support . You just need to deal with user issues quickly and efficiently to help them carry on with their jobs with minimal disruption.

This means using a range of various support tools, both high- and low-touch:

  • Email support.
  • Phone support.
  • Resource center with video tutorials , how-to guides, and product documentation.
  • Proactive in-app guidance.
  • AI-powered chatbots .

It’s the self-service resources that are particularly important. They’re available 24/7 , quicker to access, and most users prefer solving simple problems independently without talking to support agents.

UX design principles: Provide in-app support

Customer-centric UX design is what distinguishes excellent products from good ones. It enables users to realize their goals and makes the interaction effortless and pleasant.

This can greatly increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. All of which are essential for your product and business success.

If you’d like to learn more about Userpilot and how it can help your UX designers implement some of the principles, book the demo!

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Empathy mapping: Bridging the gap between design and user experience

Learn how the four quadrants of empathy mapping uncover your audience’s preferences and use them to create user-centric website experiences.

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Put your team in the users’ shoes through empathy mapping.

Behind every new website is a team that invested time, energy, and resources to deliver the best possible digital product. To connect with potential customers, a key part of this undertaking is understanding your customers’ needs and motivations. Even the most knowledgeable and experienced user experience (UX) designers rely on tools for understanding users’ precise mental processes. Empathy mapping — a method for visualizing thoughts, feelings, and actions — helps you see the user’s perspective, so you can tailor your product to their needs and preferences. 

What’s an empathy map?

An empathy map is a visual tool that helps you view your website the way visitors see it and understand a target audience's thoughts, feelings, and actions. It involves creating a visual representation that’s divided into quadrants — each dedicated to what a user persona says, thinks, does, and feels — with the goal of capturing their perspective. Whether you uncover a stumbling block or an opportunity to build a helpful new feature, what you learn through empathy mapping can help you build more impactful, user-centric experiences . 

To make an empathy map, draw from data from market research, interviews, observations, and heatmaps . Identify gaps and unmet needs in the user experience — and brainstorm creative solutions that add value and differentiate your products in the market. 

These maps are also a handy visual reference for cross-functional teams and a way to align efforts toward common goals.

Understanding the empathy map quadrants

Empathy maps typically divide the user experience into four quadrants: “Says,” “Thinks,” “Does,” and “Feels.” Each section captures different aspects of user behavior and thought processes. This can unearth valuable insights that can inform how you improve your website and present your offerings.

This quadrant represents things users have said about their experience. Your team could gather these statements, feedback, opinions, and preferences from UX research , such as user interviews, feedback forms, and surveys.

For example, someone might use a banking application and say, "I wish the app had faster transaction processing times." This comment highlights a pain point, which can help UI and UX designers and developers understand that users value faster transaction speeds.

This zone captures the underlying motivations influencing someone’s actions and decisions.

For example, someone may think, "I want to manage my finances better and stay informed about my spending habits." This reflects their goal to have more financial control and suggests possibilities for new features that your team could develop, like budgeting tools and personalized tips.

This quadrant focuses on observable actions and behaviors, like clicking buttons, scrolling, and typing. Specific interactions in a banking app, for example, may include paying bills and accessing monthly statements. Observing these real-life actions helps teams understand ways to improve important features, such as haptics (physical feedback through vibration), intuitive navigation (menus and gestures), and security (biometrics).

This quadrant explores the user's emotions, sentiments, and mood when using an interface. It includes positive and negative emotions, from happiness and satisfaction to frustration and anxiety. With the other three quadrants, this section rounds out the user's overall experience of a website.

For example, someone may feel worried after receiving real-time notifications about suspicious account activity. And, after taking action, like changing their password, their mood might shift to a sense of relief.

Empathy maps versus journey maps

Empathy and customer journey maps both help you build effective sites, but they focus on different aspects of the UX. 

Empathy maps are primarily for understanding the four quadrants of a customer’s experience at a specific point in time. These maps help you foster empathy with your users by recording information about their feelings and perspectives.

And, a journey map visualizes the user's experience across multiple touchpoints, from initial awareness to post-purchase support. Instead of quadrants, the most common journey maps are timelines or flowcharts showing each marketing funnel stage .

Say you’re developing a productivity app for remote workers. An empathy map example here may include the following quadrants:

  • Says : I struggle to focus without the structure of a traditional office environment.
  • Thinks : I want to improve my productivity working from home.
  • Does : I want to improve productivity by taking breaks between deep work.
  • Feels : I feel frustrated by distractions and anxious about missing deadlines.

Meanwhile, a journey map for the same app would show the user's path:

Discovering the app while browsing online → Signing up for a trial → Using the app daily for task management → Having trouble with specific features → Contacting customer support → Renewing subscription due to excellent service and improved productivity

A well-balanced website design incorporates elements from both types of maps and provides an empathetic and human-centered experience that covers all aspects of the buyer journey. Plus, by including both, you can validate assumptions and reduce the number of iterations and development costs, leading to a faster go-to-market launch.

Which stakeholders participate in an empathy mapping session?

Empathy mapping sessions benefit from having stakeholders with varied backgrounds and perspectives. Here are the key members you should involve in the process, and why:

  • UX researchers gather qualitative and quantitative data about target audiences through interviews, observations, and surveys.
  • UI/UX designers transform research into practical solutions that meet customer expectations. They also define the empathy map's structure to help the rest of the team visualize the ideal user persona for your service or product.
  • Web developers bring UI/UX designs to life through their technical expertise in web development languages and visual-first design tools. They also identify back- and front-end constraints (like slow-loading web pages and server speeds), and find solutions to balance UX with technical requirements.
  • Product managers bring concerns like market trends, competitor analysis , and the organization's overarching goals to the mapping process. They're responsible for identifying gaps and fulfilling needs with an eye on a positive return on investment (ROI).
  • Digital marketers use branding, messaging, and engagement strategies across multiple online channels to attract potential customers. They understand various target segments and your company's current market position, allowing them to find opportunities to resonate with users. 
  • Customer support representatives offer first-hand insights into user inquiries, feedback, and pain points. Their direct interactions with customers provide frontline evidence and real-world examples of what works and what doesn’t. ‍
  • Executive decision-makers provide leadership throughout the empathy mapping process. Their buy-in and support are essential for prioritizing resources, making investment decisions, and driving stakeholder alignment .

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How to create an empathy map for customers in 5 steps

Follow this 5-step guide to learn how to create an empathy map, which will show you how to effectively connect with your target audience.

1. Determine the map’s subject and scope

Clearly define the focus of your empathy map, including the user persona you want to understand and the context in which they interact with your website. 

Say you want to target 18- to 35-year-old content creators in the North American subcontinent who need budget-friendly cloud storage solutions. 

After cementing a subject and scope, you can start researching for relevant data. 

2. Gather data

Collect insights from interviews, surveys, customer feedback, and observational studies. Continuing with the above example, you might interview college students about their social media habits to study usage patterns. 

Data gathering isn’t limited to external sources. Engage stakeholders across departments to gain a diverse understanding of your target audience. 

After researching and finalizing your ideal demographic, you can fill out the quadrants.

3. Populate the quadrants

Example of an empathy map and its quadrants.

Draw a basic quadrant or template representing the empathy map. Label the sections Says, Thinks, Does, and Feels. These sections will serve as placeholders for audience-specific information.

Start by populating the Says and Does sections of the map — known as the outer quadrants. You can write down verbatim quotes, behaviors, and repetitive actions users take during observations. And you can even use sticky notes for each piece of information and arrange them in respective quadrants.

Then, focus on the inner sections — the Thinks and Feels areas. Capture the emotions, attitudes, and underlying motivations that might drive the actions in the Says and Does quadrants.

4. Reflect on your findings

Review the completed empathy map as a team. To gain holistic and thoughtful understanding, welcome diverse perspectives and take time to digest everyone's input.

Review the key points in each section and identify any gaps needing further clarification. For example, if a point in the Thinks quadrant is “I value privacy and security,” ask the person who jotted this down if they can be more specific. Perhaps they could narrow this down to “I value data privacy when using cloud-based applications.”

5. Make an action plan

Consult decision-makers about feasible solutions based on the insights gathered from the empathy map. This might include things like increasing the amount of resources and time your teams can allocate to meeting user expectations.

For example, the concerns about data privacy could mean your design and engineering teams start prioritizing privacy features and offering two-factor authentication for enhanced security. 

Design user-centric websites with Webflow

Empathy mapping is an excellent way to better understand how people interact with your website. To equip your design and development teams with the right tools to build user-centric websites, Webflow Enterprise offers a visual-first design platform. Map content, collaborate with teammates, and deliver aesthetic and functional sites — exactly how users want them.

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User Experience (UX) Design

What is user experience (ux) design.

User experience (UX) design is the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. UX design involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function.

  • Transcript loading…

Designing an experience includes not only making the software easy to use but also designing the other experiences related to the product, for example, the marketing campaign, the packaging and after-sales support. Most importantly, UX design is concerned with delivering solutions that address pain points and needs. After all, no one will use a product that serves no purpose.

UX vs UI: What’s the Difference?

You might see the “UX/UI designer” job title and think UX and UI are interchangeable. But while there is overlap, they are separate disciplines.

“User Experience Design” is often used interchangeably with terms such as “User Interface Design” and “Usability.” However, while usability and user interface (UI) design are important aspects of UX design, they are subsets.

A UX designer is concerned with the entire process of acquiring and integrating a product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function. The story begins before the device is even in the user’s hands.

“No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from the first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.” — Don Norman, inventor of the term “User Experience.”

Products that provide a great user experience (e.g., the iPhone) are thus designed with the product’s consumption or use in mind and the entire process of acquiring, owning and even troubleshooting it. Similarly, UX designers don’t just focus on creating usable products but on other aspects of the user experience, such as pleasure, efficiency and fun. Consequently, there is no single definition of a good user experience. Instead, a good user experience meets a particular user’s needs in the specific context where they use the product.

A UX designer attempts to answer the question: "How can we make the experience of interacting with a computer, a smartphone, a product, or a service as intuitive, smooth and pleasant as possible?"

UX Design—A Formal Definition

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines user experience as:

“A person's perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service.” — ISO 9241-210, Ergonomics of human-system interaction—Part 210: Human-centered design for interactive systems

We can break this definition into two parts:

A person’s perceptions and responses.

The use of a product, system or service.

In user experience, designers do not have much control over a person’s perceptions and responses—the first part of the definition. For example, they cannot control how someone feels, moves their fingers or controls their eyes as they use a product. However, designers can control how the product, system or service behaves and looks—the second part of the definition.

“One cannot design a user experience, only design for a user experience. In particular, one cannot design a sensual experience, but only create the design features that can evoke it.” — Jeff Johnson, Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department of the University of San Francisco

The simplest way to think about user experience design is as a verb and a noun. A UX designer designs (verb)—ideates, plans, changes—the things that affect the user experience (noun)—perceptions and responses to a system or service.

Image of a person using the app on their phone and another person designing an app on a computer.

The simplest way to think about user experience design is as a verb and a noun.

© Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0

For example, when using a physical device, such as a computer mouse, we can control some aspects of the product that influence whether the user enjoys looking at, feeling and holding it:

The way it fits in their hand. Is it snug? Is it too big and cumbersome?

The weight. Does it affect their ability to move it as they wish?

Its ease of use. Can they use it automatically, or do they have to think hard about it to achieve a goal? 

When a person uses a digital product, such as a computer application, a few aspects that we can influence include:

How intuitively they can navigate through the system.

The cues that help guide them to their goal.

The visibility of the essential aspects of a task at the appropriate time.

UX Designers Consider the Who, Why, What, and How of Product Use

As a UX designer, you should consider the Who, Why , What and How of product use. The Why involves the users’ motivations for adopting a product, whether they relate to a task they wish to perform with it or to values and views that users associate with the ownership and use of the product. The What addresses the things people can do with a product—its functionality. Finally, the How relates to the design of functionality in an accessible and aesthetically pleasant way.

UX designers start with the Why before determining the What and then, finally, How to create products with which users can form meaningful experiences. In software designs, you must ensure the product’s “substance” comes through an existing device and offers a seamless, fluid experience.

UX Design is User-Centered

Since UX design encompasses the entire user journey, it’s a multidisciplinary field–UX designers come from various backgrounds, such as visual design, programming, psychology and interaction design. To design for human users also means working with a heightened scope regarding accessibility and accommodating many potential users’ physical limitations, such as reading small text.

A UX designer’s typical tasks vary but often include user research, creating personas, designing wireframes and interactive prototypes, and testing designs. These tasks can vary significantly from one organization to the next. Still, they always demand designers to be the users’ advocates and keep their needs at the center of all design and development efforts. That’s also why most UX designers work in some form of user-centered work process and keep channeling their best-informed efforts until they optimally address all of the relevant issues and user needs.

Flow that shows the iterative process of user-centered design.

User-centered design is an iterative process where you take an understanding of the users and their context as a starting point for all design and development.

Learn More about UX Design

You can read and watch more about UX design from the inventor of the term, Don Norman, on the Nielsen Norman Group website .

Learn about UX design by reading the insightful, funny and inspiring material about UX on Medium.com .

If you want to start learning how to work in UX Design now, the Interaction Design Foundation’s online courses are a great place to begin.

Learn more about the differences between UX and UI Design in the article UX vs UI: What’s the Difference?

Questions related to User Experience (UX) Design

User experience designers are in high demand across the industry, and you can expect to earn a good living as a practitioner. Based on Glassdoor’s salary estimates, The average UI/UX design starting salary in the US in 2023 is $75,057 /yr. Depending on your role, you can expect anywhere from $90,000 to $128,000 /yr in the United States of America.

To know more about how much you can earn in your region, see this:

UI & UX Designer Salaries: How Much Can I Earn

Yes! Whether you plan to work as a freelancer or prefer to work in a company, UX design is a remote-work-friendly profession. More companies are hiring remote employees and contractors than ever before. As a remote professional, you will work primarily with digital tools and must have good communication and presentation skills.

There are some situations, particularly in user research and usability testing, where being in person is helpful. However, there are solutions to help overcome those challenges as well. Learn more about remote user testing here:

Unmoderated Remote Usability Testing (URUT) - Every Step You Take, We Won’t Be Watching You

User Research Methods for Mobile UX

UX design projects come in many sizes and shapes. With so many steps involved in the design process, you can focus on specific areas, such as research, information architecture or usability audits. If you’re just starting with user experience design and would like to build your portfolio while still working or studying, you can take up smaller projects and gain experience on the side.

Learn how to thrive as a freelancer in this course: How to Become a Freelance Designer

The short answer: No. UX designers don't need to know how to code. However, having coding skills can give you a big advantage. Knowing how to code will allow you to be more efficient and communicate better with developers. You can become a better designer when you understand how websites and apps are built. Unless you’re in a bootstrapped startup, you don’t need to be a specialist programmer and will not be expected to produce code. For a detailed discussion on this question, see this:

Should UX Designers Learn to Code?

While AI can help automate tasks and help UX designers, it will not completely replace them. AI lacks the creativity and empathy that human designers bring to the table.

Human designers are better at understanding the nuances of human behavior and emotions. They can also think outside the box and develop creative solutions that AI cannot. So, while AI can help designers be more efficient and effective through data analysis, smart suggestions and automation, it cannot replace them.

For more on how designers can work with AI, watch this Master Class on AI-Powered UX Design: How to Elevate Your UX Career

A happy user will always return to a business. So, a good user experience directly contributes to a business’s revenues. In addition, UX design can help businesses by reducing development costs, creating a competitive advantage and reducing support costs. By investing in quality UX design, businesses can improve user satisfaction and drive growth.

Take this Master Class to learn How To Design UX That Users Love To Convert Through

Learn how to manage design teams and processes in an organization with this course: UX Management: Strategy and Tactics

UX design is important because it focuses on fulfilling user needs. This ultimately benefits businesses as it improves brand reputation and loyalty. A good user experience provides a competitive edge and reduces the risk of product failure. Taking it one level higher, designers, in general, are very good problem solvers and can apply their knowledge to broader areas — not just to specific products or services but also to the entire company and even society.

Find out how designers can help build a better future in this course: Design for a Better World with Don Norman

Most UX designers don’t have a degree in UX or a related field. Many are self-taught and have learned through practice. While some employers may prefer candidates with at least a bachelor's degree, they may not insist on one related to design, particularly if you have a strong portfolio. Many soft skills required to succeed in the field are transferable from other professions.

Ultimately, what matters most is your ability to demonstrate important UX design skills, mastery of the design process, proficiency in industry tools, and an understanding of core UX design principles.

There are several online and offline resources to learn UX design, many for free. However, that also means a lot of misinformation is present on the internet. One credible and free resource is the Interaction Design Foundation.

We offer the world's largest open-source library of expert and peer-reviewed UX design resources. See the latest free articles here .

If you’re ready to start learning, we recommend the course User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide

If you’re already familiar with UX design, then take this course to learn how you can showcase your portfolio to wow your future employer/client: How to Create a UX Portfolio

The most basic tools in a UX designer’s arsenal are the humble paper and pen (or whiteboard and sticky notes). UX designers use different tools for different tasks in the design process. For example:

Survey tools such as Typeform and Google Forms help with user research.

Whiteboarding applications such as Miro and Whimsical are useful for affinity diagramming, brainstorming and defining user flows.

Interface design and prototyping tools like Figma, Adobe XD, Sketch and Marvel help designers communicate their ideas to stakeholders and developers and conduct usability testing.

For more on these tools, see these lists:

The Top UX and UI Design Tools: A Comprehensive Guide

10 Free-to-Use Wireframing Tools

There isn’t any standard UX design process. However, most teams tend to follow a variation of the 5-step design thinking process :

Empathize (through user research)

Define (through data analysis and synthesis)

Ideate (through brainstorming)

Prototype (using analog and digital tools)

Test (with real users)

UX design is a highly collaborative and iterative process. Designers plug back their findings from research and testing to improve the end user's experience.

Learn more about the design thinking process in this course: Design Thinking: The Ultimate Guide

A UX designer’s role in a project depends on the team size and project type. In small projects and teams, you can expect to conduct several tasks, including user research, creating user flows, wireframes, and prototypes, conducting usability tests, producing visual elements such as icons, and even defining the brand identity. In larger organizations and complex products, you may have more specialist roles such as researcher, interface designer and UX writer.

See these free resources to understand UX roles better:

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding UX Roles and Which One You Should Go For

What is a UX Designer and How do you Become One?

Ready to take the plunge? Take this course: User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide

Answer a Short Quiz to Earn a Gift

What is the difference between UX design and UI design?

  • UI design includes the entire process of product integration and use for a more complex user experience.
  • UX design focuses on the overall feel of the experience, while UI design is about how the product is laid out.
  • UX design focuses only on the graphical interface and information architecture of a webpage.

What does UX design primarily focus on?

  • The creation of products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users.
  • The design of a visually appealing product interface.
  • Solely on the functionality of a product.

Which of the following can UX designers control to enhance user experience?

  • The product’s behavior and appearance that evoke user perceptions.
  • A user’s basic motor skills and natural reactions.
  • The values and emotions of the user.

In the context of UX design, why is understanding the 'Why' behind product use important?

  • It allows designers to prioritize the development of new technologies.
  • It helps designers focus only on the aesthetic aspects of a product.
  • It informs the product's design since it aligns with users' motivations and needs.

What does a user-centered design approach include in UX design?

  • It includes only the design team’s preferences.
  • It includes technological development over user needs.
  • It includes the user needs at the center of the design process.

Better luck next time!

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Literature on User Experience (UX) Design

Here’s the entire UX literature on User Experience (UX) Design by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about User Experience (UX) Design

Take a deep dive into User Experience (UX) Design with our course User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide .

If you’ve heard the term user experience design and been overwhelmed by all the jargon, then you’re not alone. In fact, most practicing UX designers struggle to explain what they do!

“[User experience] is used by people to say, ‘I’m a user experience designer, I design websites,’ or ‘I design apps.’ […] and they think the experience is that simple device, the website, or the app, or who knows what. No! It’s everything — it’s the way you experience the world, it’s the way you experience your life, it’s the way you experience the service. Or, yeah, an app or a computer system. But it’s a system that’s everything.” — Don Norman, pioneer and inventor of the term “user experience,” in an interview with NNGroup

As indicated by Don Norman, User Experience is an umbrella term that covers several areas . When you work with user experience, it’s crucial to understand what those areas are so that you know how best to apply the tools available to you.

In this course, you will gain an introduction to the breadth of UX design and understand why it matters. You’ll also learn the roles and responsibilities of a UX designer, how to confidently talk about UX and practical methods that you can apply to your work immediately.

You will learn to identify the overlaps and differences between different fields and adapt your existing skills to UX design. Once you understand the lay of the land, you’ll be able to chart your journey into a career in UX design. You’ll hear from practicing UX designers from within the IxDF community — people who come from diverse backgrounds, have taught themselves design, learned on the job, and are enjoying successful careers.

If you are new to the Interaction Design Foundation, this course is a great place to start because it brings together materials from many of our other courses. This provides you with both an excellent introduction to user experience and a preview of the courses we have to offer to help you develop your future career. After each lesson, we will introduce you to the courses you can take if a specific topic has caught your attention. That way, you’ll find it easy to continue your learning journey.

In the first lesson, you’ll learn what user experience design is and what a UX designer does. You’ll also learn about the importance of portfolios and what hiring managers look for in them.

In the second lesson, you’ll learn how to think like a UX designer. This lesson also introduces you to the very first exercise for you to dip your toes into the cool waters of user experience.  

In the third and the fourth lessons, you’ll learn about the most common UX design tools and methods . You’ll also practice each of the methods through tailor-made exercises that walk you through the different stages of the design process.

In the final lesson, you’ll step outside the classroom and into the real world. You’ll understand the role of a UX designer within an organization and what it takes to overcome common challenges at the workplace. You’ll also learn how to leverage your existing skills to successfully transition to and thrive in a new career in UX.   

You’ll be taught by some of the world’s leading experts . The experts we’ve handpicked for you are:

Alan Dix , Director of the Computational Foundry at Swansea University, author of Statistics for HCI : Making Sense of Quantitative Data

Ann Blandford , Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at University College London

Frank Spillers , Service Designer, Founder and CEO of Experience Dynamics

Laura Klein , Product Management Expert, Principal at Users Know, Author of Build Better Products and UX for Lean Startups

Michal Malewicz , Designer and Creative Director / CEO of Hype4 Mobile

Mike Rohde , Experience and Interface Designer, Author of The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking

Szymon Adamiak , Software Engineer and Co-founder of Hype4 Mobile

William Hudson , User Experience Strategist and Founder of Syntagm

Throughout the course, we’ll supply you with lots of templates and step-by-step guides so you can start applying what you learn in your everyday practice.

You’ll find a series of exercises that will help you get hands-on experience with the methods you learn. Whether you’re a newcomer to design considering a career switch, an experienced practitioner looking to brush up on the basics, or work closely with designers and are curious to know what your colleagues are up to, you will benefit from the learning materials and practical exercises in this course.

You can also learn with your fellow course-takers and use the discussion forums to get feedback and inspire other people who are learning alongside you. You and your fellow course-takers have a huge knowledge and experience base between you, so we think you should take advantage of it whenever possible.

You earn a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you’ve completed the course. You can highlight it on your resume , LinkedIn profile or website .

All open-source articles on User Experience (UX) Design

Apple’s product development process – inside the world’s greatest design organization.

design process user journey

  • 1.4k shares

What is Interaction Design?

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How to Change Your Career from Graphic Design to UX Design

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Human Computer Interaction - brief intro

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Shneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules Will Help You Design Better Interfaces

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  • 1.3k shares

The Principles of Service Design Thinking - Building Better Services

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  • 11 mths ago

A Simple Introduction to Lean UX

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  • 3 years ago

Dieter Rams: 10 Timeless Commandments for Good Design

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The 7 Factors that Influence User Experience

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  • 1.2k shares

Adaptive vs. Responsive Design

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The Grid System: Building a Solid Design Layout

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10 Free-to-Use Wireframing Tools [Updated for 2024]

design process user journey

Hick’s Law: Making the choice easier for users

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7 Great, Tried and Tested UX Research Techniques

design process user journey

Interaction Design - brief intro

Usability: a part of the user experience.

design process user journey

Data Visualization for Human Perception

User experience and experience design, how to improve your ux designs with task analysis.

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  • 1.1k shares

The Power of White Space in Design

design process user journey

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IMAGES

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VIDEO

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COMMENTS

  1. Creating User Journey Maps: A Guide

    The main job of a UX designer is to make products intuitive, functional, and enjoyable to use. By creating a user journey map, you're thinking about a product from a potential customer's point of view. This can help in several ways. User journey maps foster a user-centric mentality. You'll focus on how a user might think and feel while ...

  2. Journey Mapping 101

    Definition of a Journey Map. Definition: A journey map is a visualization of the process that a person goes through in order to accomplish a goal. In its most basic form, journey mapping starts by compiling a series of user actions into a timeline. Next, the timeline is fleshed out with user thoughts and emotions in order to create a narrative.

  3. How To Create A User Journey Map: Examples + Template

    User journey maps are helpful across the product design and development process, especially at two crucial moments: during product development and for UX troubleshooting. These scenarios call for different user journey maps: current-state and future-state.

  4. A comprehensive guide to effective customer journey mapping

    A particularly handy tool for user experience (UX) design, this process helps teams understand who their users are and how to fulfill their expectations, guiding development decisions for improved audience engagement. Learn more about customer journey mapping and how you can implement it to enhance your CX. User journey mapping: an overview

  5. The Ultimate Guide to User Journey Maps

    A user journey map is a visual representation depicting the journey a user takes to achieve a goal. The process of user journey mapping gives product teams the opportunity to examine every step a user takes through a given experience. It provides insights into what works and doesn't work from the user's perspective. ... Design better ...

  6. Exploring User journey mapping in Design thinking: A beginner's guide

    In design thinking, user journey mapping plays an important role. Design thinking itself is a human-centric approach to problem-solving. It involves empathizing with users, defining their problems, ideating solutions, prototyping, and testing. ... The process of user journey mapping is an essential component of user experience design. It allows ...

  7. A Beginner's Guide To User Journey Mapping

    The 8-Step Process of User Journey Mapping. Choose a scope. Create a user persona. Define the scenario and user expectations. Create a list of touchpoints. Take user intention into account. Sketch the journey. Consider a user's emotional state during each step of the interaction. Validate and refine the user journey.

  8. User Journey Map: The Ultimate Guide & FREE Templates

    User journey maps are an essential tool in the UX design process, used to understand and address the user's needs and pain points. Best behavioral analytics tools to optimize mobile app UX. 20+ powerful UX statistics to impress stakeholders. Mobile UX design: The complete expert guide.

  9. User journeys: the complete guide

    Defining a new journey: within the design process, we can use a User Journey map to help us design a new process that allows the user to achieve their goal. Testing a product: we can use a User Journey as a testing tool, where we confront the user with our product, asking them to perform some tasks and analyzing the possible friction of the ...

  10. Journey Mapping in Design Thinking: Best Practices & Tools

    Journey mapping is more than a tool; it's a compass that guides the design thinking process towards user-centric solutions. It brings to light the intricate web of needs, desires, and frustrations that shape user behavior, offering a foundation upon which to build empathetic and effective design strategies.

  11. Why All UX Designers Should Be Creating User Journeys, And Here's How

    How Does A User Journey Fit Into The UX Design Process? User journeys are typically created at the beginning of a project — during the product analysis phase, after personas are defined. Along with personas they can be one of the key design deliverables from this phase. A user journey can be used to demonstrate either current or future user ...

  12. How to Create Customer & User Journey Maps (+Examples & Template)

    Reducing churn rate for paying customers. 2. Build personas and define your user's goals. Develop at least one persona you'll use as your primary model. The more specifics you create about the behavior of your different users across the personas you identify, the better and more detailed your user journey map will be.

  13. Customer Journey Map: Definition & Process

    User Journey. The user journey focuses on people's experience with digital platforms like websites or software. Key stages include: 1. Discovery: In this stage, users become aware of your product, site, or service, often due to marketing efforts, word-of-mouth, or organic search. It also includes their initial reactions or first impressions.

  14. What are UX Design Processes?

    Any UX design process is a meticulous journey through several stages. Each stage is crucial for teams to deliver a user-centric product. The first step of a UX design process tends to involve discovery, understanding or research. Similarly, iterative UX design processes indicate the importance of continued improvements.

  15. How to design a customer journey map (A step-by-step guide)

    Here's how to create a user journey map in 6 steps: Choose a user journey map template (or create your own) Define your persona and scenario. Outline key stages, touchpoints, and actions. Fill in the user's thoughts, emotions, and pain-points. Identify opportunities.

  16. The 5 Stages in the Design Thinking Process

    The five stages of design thinking, according to the d.school, are: Empathize: research your users' needs. Define: state your users' needs and problems. Ideate: challenge assumptions and create ideas. Prototype: start to create solutions. Test: try your solutions out. Let's dive into each stage of the design thinking process.

  17. Design Process

    This design process series covers the exact design process we use every day at SetDesign. It's a culmination of a six-year journey, bootstrapping a software engineering consulting agency as the ...

  18. The Iterative Journey of Design: Understanding the Process

    The design process is a dynamic and iterative journey marked by creativity, empathy, and collaboration. It's a journey where problems are solved, ideas are brought to life, and innovation thrives. So, whether you're a seasoned designer or a curious enthusiast, embrace the journey, for it's in the process that true magic happens.

  19. Customer Journey Maps—How to Build One

    Understanding a user's needs is the bedrock of great design. User experience and product designers draw upon a range of tools and methods for uncovering the needs of their users and designing a product that meets those needs. The customer journey map is one such tool to deploy in the early stages of the design process to help empathize with ...

  20. User Journeys vs. User Flows

    What Is a User Journey? User journey: (Or customer journey) A scenario-based sequence of the steps that a user takes in order to accomplish a high-level goal with a company or product, usually across channels and over time. The underlying goal of a user journey is high-level. Describing the journey will involve understanding the experience of a user across many points of interaction, because ...

  21. 17 UX Design Principles to Follow for a Great User Experience

    Consider the context in the design process. When designing the UX, take into consideration the context in which the product will be used. Some questions that can help you include: ... Contextual in-app guidance (based on user behavior and the stage in the user journey). UX design principles: personalize the product experience (e.g. through ...

  22. User Journey: Design Flows Instead of Screens

    A user journey is a great tool to design the flows people go through in an app. See some real-life examples of user journeys and tips on how to design them. ... A User Journey represents a linear process: the process step by step through which the user achieves a specific goal. Each of the steps is then captured in more or less detail, always ...

  23. Empathy mapping: Bridging the gap between design and user ...

    Understanding the empathy map quadrants. Empathy maps typically divide the user experience into four quadrants: "Says," "Thinks," "Does," and "Feels.". Each section captures different aspects of user behavior and thought processes. This can unearth valuable insights that can inform how you improve your website and present your ...

  24. What is User Experience (UX) Design?

    User experience (UX) design is the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. UX design involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function. Show video transcript.

  25. Creating User Journey Maps: A Guide

    The main job of a UX designer is to make products intuitive, functional, and enjoyable to use. By creating a user journey map, you're thinking about a product from a potential customer's point of view. This can help in several ways. User journey maps foster a user-centric mentality. You'll focus on how a user might think and feel whilst ...

  26. ChatGPT

    Design a programming game teach basics in a fun way (opens in a new window) Make up a story about Sharky, a tooth-brushing shark superhero (opens in a new window) Explain nostalgia to a kindergartener (opens in a new window) Plan a trip to experience Seoul like a local (opens in a new window)

  27. Creating User Journey Maps: A Guide

    The main job of a UX designer is to make products intuitive, functional, and enjoyable to use. By creating a user journey map, you're thinking about a product from a potential customer's point of view. This can help in several ways. User journey maps foster a user-centric mentality. You'll focus on how a user might think and feel while ...