Journey Maps

Learn about building empathy for users and improving their processes through making journey maps. 

What is a User Journey Map?

A journey map is a visualization of the process that a person goes through in order to accomplish a goal. It’s used for understanding and addressing customer needs and pain points.

- Nielsen Norman Group

Journey maps are created from research gathered through user interviews, user testing, web analytics, support logs, surveys, and competitive analyses. A journey map displays this research through storytelling and visualization. It presents a situation from an elevated perspective and humanizes it to show a user’s true experience.

The Benefits:

  • Provides a clear picture of the user experience.
  • Creates empathy for the user.
  • Identifies opportunities to enhance the experience.
  • Identifies gaps between devices, departments and channels.
  • Can help understand quantitative data.

Creating a Journey Map

1. Preliminary research and materials.

A user persona will need to be created before working on a journey map. This will define who the user is that is going through the journey. It is important to familiarize yourself with the persona (who they are and why they do what they do). A user persona is created from data collected from user interviews. It is also important to conduct other research such as reviewing analytics, user testing, shadowing sessions and other methods to gather information about the user and process of the journey.

2. Define the primary steps of the process.

The journey map will need a defined timeframe with a start and end, this is set by defining the primary steps for each column of your journey map. The amount of steps will vary depending on the story of the journey. It is recommended to have at least three steps and no more than six. These steps should be short overarching actions. For example, a good first primary step is “Identify a Need” not “Received an email from a manger requesting a project…” this type of detail should go in the body of the journey map under that primary step.

3. Documenting the experience.

Organize all the information that was collected during the preliminary research into the top three rows of the journey map. The user goal is what the user wants to achieve in this step. The process is the details of what the user current does to achieve the user goal. It is also helpful to show how the user is feeling throughout the journey with an emotional path of emoticons and/or quotes for each primary step.

4. Adding the insight.

A successful journey map should lead to actions. This could take the form of improvements that can be done or validating a successful process. In the journey map this is displayed in the bottom two rows as the pain points and opportunities for each primary step of the process.

Assistance with Journey Mapping

The User Experience and Digital Strategy team offers consultations that includes journey mapping as one of the usability services. Please contact us to see if you are eligible for a consultation, and review examples of our work with Yale ITS and other departments.

Essential Resources: