What is a User Journey?

The term user journey is often used with software and describes the culmination of experiences a person has when interacting with something such as a website to accomplish their goal. For instance, Bob wants to buy a hammock on Amazon so he boots up his computer to navigate to Amazon’s site. Every action he takes from typing hammocks in Amazon’s search field to clicking the Add to Cart box to filling in the personal information for shipping and billing in the checkout process to purchasing the product are included in his journey to purchase the hammock.

The user journey is a term commonly used in user experience fields. Professionals will often create user journey maps to visualize the process a person goes through to reach their goal. Journey mapping combines both storytelling and visualization to convey information in a memorable, concise way.

The key parts of a journey map include:

  • The persona, or actor experiencing the journey.
  • The scenario that addresses a user’s goals and needs and the expectations they have for the experience.
  • The actions, mindsets, and emotions a user experiences throughout their journey.
  • The journey phases are the high-level stages a persona goes through in a scenario.
  • The insights for improving a user journey found after analyzing the scenario.

To create a successful journey map make sure to use both quantitative and qualitative research, identify the business goal the map will support, involve other stakeholders to compile data and build the map, and wait to create the visualization until you have all the data and understand it.

Big no-nos for constructing your journey map include:

  • Prioritizing without customers.
  • Overcomplicating journey mapping.
  • Getting paralyzed by process and outcome.
  • Build a map without defensible data.
  • Confuse touchpoint map with a customer journey map.
  • Forget to scope the map.
  • Allow the voice of the employee to replace the voice of the customer.


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