Creating User Journey Maps: A Guide

One of the biggest skills you'll need as a UI/UX designer is your ability to empathise with the people using the products you design. Creating user journey maps can help you harness that empathy and transform it into valuable insights about your customers and product. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore what a user journey map is, why it's an important tool in the UX designer's toolbox, and how to create one effectively.

What is a User Journey Map?

A user journey map is a visual representation of a customer's experience with a product or service. It provides a detailed overview of the customer's journey, including their actions, emotions, thoughts, and interactions with the product or service. User journey maps can cover a customer's entire relationship with a brand or focus on a specific experience or scenario.

Why Create User Journey Maps?

User journey maps serve several important purposes in the UX design process:

Foster a User-Centric Mentality: By creating a user journey map, you shift your focus to the user's perspective, considering their goals, motivations, and potential obstacles.

Create a Shared Vision: User journey maps serve as a reference point for different team members and stakeholders throughout the product development process, ensuring everyone is aligned with the user's experience.

Uncover Blind Spots: Mapping out how a user interacts with your product can reveal design flaws, pain points, or new opportunities that might have been overlooked.

Types of User Journey Maps

User journey maps can take various forms, each tailored to specific needs and scenarios. Here are some common types:

UX Journey Map: Focuses on the user experience of a specific product, typically an app or website.

Sales Journey Map: Follows the buyer's journey through its typical stages: awareness, consideration, and decision.

Customer Experience Journey Map: Offers a high-level view of a customer's relationship with a brand across time. These can be either current-state or future-state maps.

Elements of a User Journey Map

While user journey maps can be customised to fit specific needs, most of them include the following elements:




The segment of users you're trying to understand (current or target).


The interaction or experience you're mapping out (real or anticipated).

Stages of the Journey

The high-level phases of the scenario.

User Actions

The actions the user can take in each stage of the journey.

User Emotions and Thoughts

The user's emotional state and thought process as they move through the stages.


Areas where you can improve the UX or better connect with the customer.

Internal Ownership

The team or team member responsible for enacting the identified changes.

How to Create a User Journey Map

Follow these steps to create an effective user journey map:

Define the Scope

Start by defining your goals. Are you mapping the journey of a new target user across the entire buyer's journey, or are you seeking to improve a specific interaction or transaction within your product? Clearly defining your goals will help you gain more relevant insights from your map.

Build User Personas

Create a customer persona for each unique user segment. User research, customer interviews, focus groups, surveys, and prior customer feedback can help you develop these personas and better understand the customer perspective.

Define User Goals, Expectations, and Pain Points

Consider what your target users want, what problems they're trying to solve, what expectations they might have, and what potential pain points or frustrations they might encounter with your product or service.

List Out Touchpoints and Channels

Identify all the customer touchpoints and channels involved in the scenario you've defined, such as websites, social media platforms, apps, ads, or face-to-face communications.

Map the Journey Stages

Visualise the information you've gathered by creating a user journey map. You can use a simple timeline, a storyboard, or specialised journey mapping tools like Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, UXPressia, Smaply, Custellence, or Visual Paradigm.

Validate and Refine the Map

Validate your user journey map by experiencing the journey yourself, conducting usability testing, analysing user data and analytics, and gathering feedback from real customers. Refine the map as needed to reflect the actual customer experience accurately.

Other Types of UX Mapping

In addition to user journey maps, UX designers may employ other mapping tools throughout the design process:

Service Blueprint: Maps out the behind-the-scenes processes and activities required to deliver the customer experience.

User Flow: Maps out the path taken by a generic user through a website or app to achieve a specific outcome.

Empathy Map: Helps gain a deeper understanding of customer actions by mapping out what they say, think, feel, and do.

Experience Map: Tracks the entire experience of a generic user as they seek to achieve a goal or satisfy a need, often without the context of a specific product or service.


Creating user journey maps is an essential part of the UX design process. By visualising the customer's experience, you can gain valuable insights, identify pain points, and uncover opportunities for improvement. Use this guide to create effective user journey maps and enhance the overall user experience of your products.


What is the main purpose of creating a user journey map?

The main purpose of creating a user journey map is to visualise the customer's experience with a product or service from their perspective. It helps foster a user-centric mindset, create a shared vision among the team, and uncover potential blind spots or areas for improvement.

What are the key elements that should be included in a user journey map?

The key elements of a user journey map include the user persona, scenario, stages of the journey, user actions, user emotions and thoughts, opportunities for improvement, and internal ownership or responsibility.

What are the different types of user journey maps?

UX journey maps (focused on a specific product or service), sales journey maps (focused on the buyer's journey), and customer experience journey maps (focused on the overall customer-brand relationship).

How can user research and data help in creating a user journey map?

User research methods such as customer interviews, focus groups, surveys, and prior customer feedback can help in developing accurate user personas and understanding the user's goals, expectations, and potential pain points. Analytics and usability testing data can also help validate and refine the user journey map.

What are some other mapping tools that UX designers?

Other mapping tools mentioned in the article include service blueprints (mapping behind-the-scenes processes), user flows (mapping paths through a website or app), empathy maps (mapping user actions, thoughts, and feelings), and experience maps (mapping the overall experience of achieving a goal or satisfying a need).

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