User Journey Map Template (And Official How-To Guide)

Author's profile picture
Alexander Georges
Author's profile picture
Lydia Chamberlain
April 21, 2020

In this article, I’ll break down:

  • What a user journey map is
  • Why you should use a user journey map
  • The downside of using a user journey map
  • The step-by-step on how to make a user journey map.

As a UX designer, I’ve used user journey maps for multiple projects to help myself and the people I work with to understand users better.

In the end, I save the company time, effort, and (therefore) money by doing the upfront research.

Whether you’re a beginner just getting into UX design or an expert who needs a good review of the process, this article will help you in your own user journey.

What is a User Journey Map

A user journey map is a tool used (largely by UX designers) to visually show the user’s experience through a series of chronological events, starting from a problem and ending with that problem solved by your product.

The UX Designer often records what a user is doing, what they are thinking, how they are feeling, and where the user is on the product (aka touchpoints).

Why Use a User Journey Map

A user journey map is a flexible tool

There are some recommended things to put in a user journey map, like what the user is doing and how they feel, but the designer can add or subtract to the map as needed.

For example, if you were making an app for restaurant deals, you might add a section for the points the user is racking up to earn rewards.

A user journey map is visual

When you have a visual tool, it tends to be easier to share and explain to the people you work with, whether that’s other designers, developers, projects managers, or directors.

Believe me, Susie at the desk in the corner probably prefers this over a 10-page report on the user journey process.

A user journey map is research-based

We’ll explain this further in the how-to section, but the information put into a user journey map isn’t pulled out of a magician’s hat.

It should be based on interviews conducted with users to better understand their process.

A user journey map will save you time, effort, and money later

These maps help you see where the user has pain points along their journey. By seeing when and where they occur, you record them early and can create features or fixes in your MVP (or minimum viable product).

On the other hand, if you caught the pain points late in the development process of your product, it might be expensive to go back and fix what could be a pain point that has already lost you many customers

A user journey map extends the story beyond your product

It should tell the story of what led the user to your product, how they interact with your product, and how you continue to support the user afterwards.

It will help you think more holistically on how you can ease their pain points and what opportunities you can take.

The Downside of a User Journey Map

A user journey map is not always specific

It’s often used to summarize the steps users walk through when using your product, but not to go into the nitty-gritty details.

Even with user journey maps that map a particular experience, there’s only so much information you should show before the map becomes bloated with information and complex to read.

A user journey map is not always specific

You should be basing them on your personas (which we’ll go into in the next section), but just like personas, they don’t tell the statistics of all your users.

They represent the journey most common to your users, but not every single possible event.

How to Make a User Journey Map [in 7 Steps]

1. Start with Your User Personas + Research

User journey maps should be based on your personas, which are themselves based on research done with users.

This research with your users makes it so that these user journeys maps aren’t based on how you think users behave but are based on actual, common behavior.

Generally, you’ll make at least one user journey map for each persona in order to see the different ways your user base will act in the same situation.

For example, if you’re making a desktop application to match job-seekers with employers, you might have the personas:

  • The Culture Fit Job-Seeker
  • The High Paying Job-Seeker
  • The Fast Upward Mobility Job-Seeker

If you’d like to learn how to make personas, you can find our complete guide here.

If you’d like to learn how to conduct usability tests, you can find our guide here.

You should be basing them on your personas (which we’ll go into in the next section), but just like personas, they don’t tell the statistics of all your users.

They represent the journey most common to your users, but not every single possible event.

2. What is Your User’s Goal?

You need to establish what your persona’s end goal is for this user journey map.

In our example above, our “Culture Fit Job-Seeker” persona, Laura Lang, is looking for a new job that values her as a person and as an engineer.

3. What is the User Doing?

Let’s create the chronological steps of what the user is doing.

A good place to start is to think of when the problem beginsbefore the user even begins using your product.

Example: Laura’s current pain points revolve around the fact that she’s feeling neglected at her current job.

She feels like she’s being judged by her looks over her skills, she doesn’t feel challenged with the projects she’s working on, and she’s not sure if she’s being underpaid for her role.

Now, think about the user doing their research. It’s important that you learn this information from your real users to see how they normally search for answers when they have a problem.

Example: Laura is now searching for engineering jobs.

Next, what is the user doing when they’re using your product? What are the main events on their journey?

Example: Laura filters through the job applications, she interviews with potential employers, and she receives and accepts a job offer.

Lastly, what happens after the user uses your product? What happens when they’re offline? How do you stay in contact with them?

Example: Our product follows-up with Laura to get her feedback of the product and a review of her job to help future job-seekers.

4. What is the User Feeling?

Now that you’ve established the steps, try to describe how the user is feeling during these steps. Are the depressed, ecstatic, or confident? Is the user feeling both positive and negative emotions?

UX designers will often have a visual representation to go with this section, which help anyone who sees your user journey map quickly grasp how the user feels during their journey at a glance.

Example: Laura is feeling depressed at her current job (because she doesn’t feel appreciated for her abilities).

5. What is the User Thinking?

This section is really important because it humanizes your users.

They have thoughts every step of the way, and you want to reflect that in your user journey map.

You can expand on your user’s feelings here.

Example: Laura is feeling depressed in the first step, thinking, “I don’t feel appreciated here.”

When she hear’s how her engineering friends at other companies are doing, she can’t help but to think, “Everyone else seems to be happy at their jobs.”

6. What are the Touchpoints?

You need to know where the user is when their doing what they’re doing.

Are they using social media? Are they using Google? Are they at a lobby? Are they using a phone?

During this step, record the main sources that are necessary for the user to accomplish what they’re doing.

Example: While researching for new job opportunities, Laura goes to Google and finds your website, Dream Job.

Her two touchpoints are Google and your website (we’ll just call it “website” on the user journey map).

7. Any Other Section You Need to Show?

Two sections I personally like adding to my user journey maps are “[Potential] Pitfalls” and “Opportunities.”

With these two sections, you can see ways to delight the users while being mindful of potential mistakes, respectively.

However, because user journey maps are flexible, you can add any sections you feel like enlighten you and your coworkers about the user and their experience.

For example, if your product is a dieting app and your user is going through the journey of losing weight, you might add a section for how much weight is lost throughout the journey.

You should also consider what happens if your user fails.

If my user journey map with Laura was real, I would either add a column where she fails an interview and keeps trying or make that a separate journey map altogether.

Remember, you’re trying to capture the user’s experience as best as possible, and only thinking about what happens when your users succeed isn’t realistic.

Here is the user journey map shown all together.

User Journey Map Template

If you'd like to use the user journey map template you see above, you can download it for free.

let's talk

Have an idea? Need some design expertise?
Let us help.
Send a Message