Lesson Three: User Journey Mapping

What's a User Journey Map?

A User Journey map documents a user's experience with your product from start to finish, including how they will be introduced to it, and when and why they will use it.

They're excellent tools for creating user centric products because they allow designers to see the product from the users point of view, and they document the value it will provide for its users, helping to ensure the product is meeting expectations. 

Mapping the user’s journey also allows you to identify pain points and opportunities to add additional value for your users, allowing you to create a truly great user experience.

While user journey maps come in many formats, they’re commonly represented as a timeline of all the touch points between a user and a product.

A really simple user journey map could look something like this:

And a much more complex user journey map might look something like this:

A good user journey map will help you understand how users experience your product based on their unique motivations and goals, and can help you improve their experience with targeted changes and modifications.

For example, after exploring the way an actual user experiences your app you might find that you need to add a step to your onboarding flow, or add tooltips to help users learn to use the product quickly and optimally.

When thinking about your users journey, you might want to consider the following questions:

  • What was their motivation for downloading and opening the app?
  • How easy is it for a first time user to understand the app?
  • How long does it take the user to accomplish their goals in using the app?

The answers to these questions will help you better understand your users motivations, and what they’re likely to desire and find helpful in your product.  Using this information will allow you to create an experience that truly hooks your user.

Creating Your User Journey Map

Your user journey map template should contain 4 elements:
  • Personas:
    Truly understanding your app's ideal user is at the heart of creating a great user experience. You’ll be using the persona you created in lesson one as your user in this journey map.
  • Timeline:
    Your map should have a specific duration including the beginning (downloading the app), middle (the use of the app) and end.
    You’ll be mapping out the interactions that a user has with the app over this duration.
  • Actions: 
    What is the user doing at every interaction with your app? Entering login information? Clicking a push notification? Scrolling through options?
  • Feelings/Expectations/Questions: 
    You’ll want to chart the emotional state of your user during every action they take with your app. Are they annoyed with a popup? Happy with ease of use? You can chart this by splitting the y axis of your timeline into positive and negative emotional states.  

    Take note of questions that might be running through the users head during each interaction with the app and make sure to look for the events in the user journey that confuse or irritate your users.
To create your User Journey Map you’ll want to gather your entire team and brainstorm the 5 elements listed above. During your brainstorming session we recommend utilizing the following storyboarding exercise to help you better understand how users might interact with your app.


Begin your storyboarding exercise by reviewing your user personas and discussing the users internal motivations and the value they will gain by using your app.

Next, your team will individually sketch out storyboards. Tell the team to imagine that they are directors of a movie. Hand out some pens and the storyboarding template above, and ask each member of the team to independently sketch the frames of this user’s story. You'll want to time box this exercise - 10-15 minutes should be plenty.

Make sure to tell your team to avoid drawing interfaces - this will be done later, after you’ve established the tasks the user needs the interface to perform. 

Once Have the members of your team present their storyboards to the group and take notes on any themes and areas where there is consensus.

Mapping Out The Journey

You’re ready to put together your User Journey Map! Take all of the information you brainstormed with your team ( timeline, touch points, emotional highs and lows, and all the new ideas you generated on how to improve the user's journey) and map it out!

You can use the above template, or get creative with how you lay it out. 

What Should I Do With My User Journey Map?

If your User Persona answers the “who?” question, then your User Journey Map gives you the “when” and “why”.

You’ll use the journey map as you continue designing your app to ensure you are delivering the value your users need, when they need it.

You’ll be using the pain points and opportunities you identified during this process to ideate the solutions your app will provide, and to come up with design patterns that will drive value.

A User Journey Map can unite all  of your project stakeholders around a unified story of your user, so make sure to share with everyone on your team.

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