User Journey Maps: A Guide to Designing Digital Product

What is a user journey map?

A user journey map is a visual timeline that shows what a user goes through to accomplish a goal. It gives an overall view of the scenario and actions at every touch point. If you want a more detailed map, you can also add the users’ emotions, pain points and motivation throughout the map.

Simple user journey
Simple user journey

Why create user journey maps?

1. Improve the user experience

We create user journey maps to build a better user experience.

2. Improve usage, sales, and lead metrics

With digital products, you’ll soon find metrics such as sales volume, number of leads, signups and conversion rates improve after implementing the right solutions. Removing a registration process or changing the user flow can boost pageviews, sales, and leads. And a user journey map can reveal where your bottlenecks are. It’ll also show you how simple or complicated you’re making things for your users. The catch is you need to be continually revising your user journey map.

User journey map examples

User journey map examples
User journey map examples

Main sections of a user journey map:

  • User: The user persona you are investigating.
  • Scenario: The situation the user is facing or the goal they are trying to achieve.
  • (Optional) Expectations: What the user demands of the user experience.
  • Phases: These are the stages a user goes through before achieving a task or goal. Common stages are awareness, consideration, evaluation, purchasing, and post-purchase. There will be several touchpoints and actions in each stage.
  • Touchpoints: These represent the various channels that your customers use. Examples include website, apps, kiosk screen, tv ads, online ads, emails, etc.
  • Actions: What the user will do or needs to do to get to the next touchpoint or stage.

Optional sections:

A user journey map should have data and insights that are relevant towards improving your product. There is more than one way to map out the user experience. You can add more elements or sections to your user journey map such as:

  • Ownership: List each team’s goal or plan for improvements.

How to create a user journey map

1. Set the goal

You need to establish a goal that you want to achieve through mapping. It could be designing a user journey for a new feature you’re building.

2. Research and understand

Whether you’re building your first product or improving one, it’s critical to understand what is really happening on the ground. If you don’t have a product, you can study competitors and find their strengths and weaknesses, as a user.

3. Set the stage

Now it’s time to set the stage. Focus on a user persona and scenario. Identify every touch point. Think of the actions your user persona may take.

A User Journey Map Example

As an example, our user persona is a single 25-year-old product designer who is tired, bored, and stressed working from home. He wants to find a co-working space near his home, to change up his routine, see and meet other people.

  • Consideration — the user is considering your solution and brand.
  • Decision — the user is comparing between your brand and others, before buying.
  • Post-purchase — the user consumes your service/product and is seeking support, giving feedback, recommending, or buying the next one.

4. Map out the user journey

Discuss with your teams and draw the user journey map. You can use sticky notes to illustrate the map, as they are easier to move around instead of drawing with a marker. It may also be better to use an online whiteboard for this, so you always have a digital copy saved.

  • How long does your user expect to accomplish the goal?
  • What is the user experience like, transitioning from one touchpoint to another?
  • How likely will the user take the action you’ve outlined?
  • How likely will the user drop off and exit the journey? If so, why?
  • How is the user feeling at different phases?
  • What more can you do to help the user advance to the next phase to accomplish the goal?
User journey map example
User journey map example

5. Validate and refine your map

A user journey map is only as useful as how long and how often you use it. If you draw one up, and never visit again, then you won’t gain much value out of it. After drawing the map, you would probably start designing, building, and conducting user tests.

Family first // Principal @relabstudios // Customer-obsessed digital design agency // Design sprint advocate // Melbourne // Say hello @alhermanto

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store