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Journey mapping in UX design

Last updated

21 February 2023


Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Jean Kaluza

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Customers are essential to the success of a business. Without them, the company would cease to exist. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand the stages customers go through when interacting with a brand. You can use a journey map to visualize this across all digital channels over time.

A journey map helps UX designers identify stress points and missing connections in the product to eliminate inefficiency. Journey mapping makes products functional, intuitive, and easy to use. 

If you’re looking to create user-friendly, intuitive experiences for your customers, journey mapping is a key part of UX design. Find out everything you need to know about journey mapping in this guide.

What are the four stages of journey mapping?

A journey map should accurately represent your user’s experience from when they first find you and start to interact with you, through to them making a purchase and becoming a loyal customer.

The stages of a journey map will therefore depend on your product. The four stages of a customer’s buying cycle are:


During this stage, customers are looking for solutions to a problem. They become aware of your brand, services, or products via advertisements or other marketing vehicles.

Social media is a powerful tool that companies use to boost awareness. During the awareness stage, the brand should share pertinent information, such as business goals, ethics, and values.


At this stage, customers consider the brand against similar companies offering the same products and services.

You need to give potential customers a deeper understanding of what you’re offering and why your brand is a better choice. They may engage with the business by signing up for a newsletter or visiting a brick-and-mortar store.


Customers have decided what they want and make a purchase. They have gathered the information they need before committing to a purchase. They may find this information in email confirmations, FAQs on billing and shipping, and online ordering pages.

Customer loyalty

This is the last stage, after customers have made their purchase and are evaluating the overall experience. This phase is about creating loyal, returning clients by offering membership programs and future discounts.

How to make a simple journey map

Each customer journey is unique, so journey maps vary depending on the scenarios experienced by customers. Although the maps vary widely, the same steps are involved in creating them.

Let’s look at a step-by-step approach to making a simple journey map.

Step 1: Scope definition

The first step is to clearly define your goals. What are you hoping to achieve from this journey map? Do you want to make a particular aspect of the purchasing cycle more user-friendly? Or are you trying to find out why potential customers don’t follow through with a purchase?

Setting a goal will provide guide rails around the particular customer path you’re trying to understand. This will drive UX designers throughout the journey.

Step 2: Create user personas

Next, get a grasp of who your customers are. Gather information to create different personas to improve your knowledge of the different segments of your target audience. This helps you to:

  • Define your target market

  • Create better products and services

  • Appeal to them through your marketing

Step 3: List channels and touchpoints

Touchpoints are points of interaction between the user and the product. The channels may be through social media platforms, the path a user would take through your product, and other supporting applications or communication necessary to complete their goal.

List all the channels and touchpoints in the journey scenarios. Identify the touchpoints with higher engagement and those that need to be optimized.

Step 4: Collect customer feedback

Gathering customer feedback helps gauge how your users feel about your product or service. Methods used to gather information include:

Your aim is to see your product through the eyes of your customers.

Step 5: Define pain points and points of friction

Using the customer feedback you gathered in the previous stage, identify gaps in the user journey that make it difficult to move through stages. Identify when they happen and what triggers them. 

This will help you to smooth out potential friction points in the customer journey.

Step 6: Improve and re-evaluate

The last step is to improve the overall experience of your customers. Once you have identified the pain points, opportunities, and goal metrics, brainstorm solutions to the identified flaws and implement necessary changes.

Regularly conduct further research and re-evaluate the customer journey.

What are the elements of a journey map?

A journey map is made up of the following elements:

Persona (actor)

The persona is the one who experiences the journey; it may be a customer or a product user. Depending on the scenario, it could be a group or an individual.


The scenario is what the actor or persona is trying to achieve. A scenario describes the situation that the journey addresses. It primarily includes goals and expectations and can be real or imaginary.

Journey phase

Phases are the different stages of a journey, from awareness to purchasing and beyond. In each phase, try to visualize how you can meet the customer’s goals.

Thoughts and emotions

This refers to how the customer feels as they interact with your brand. Thoughts help the UX designer understand what the customer is experiencing, for example, relief, anxiousness, or frustration. Emotions allow the UX designer to focus on encouraging positive thoughts.

User actions

The action element details what the actor does in each phase to achieve their goal. It defines the actual steps taken by an actor throughout the journey.


This element offers the brand a chance to improve the customer's experience. They are insights gained from journey mapping and used to make informed decisions.

Why are journey maps important?

Journey mapping brings the following benefits for a company.

Customer-centric philosophy

Using journey maps, UX designers can focus on how customers feel and think about the product being designed.

Journey maps help businesses understand their customers better, resulting in improved decision-making.

Broader business perspective

A journey map helps you to visualize situations experienced by a customer when interacting with your brand. The goal of a journey map is to remove obstacles and make the purchasing process intuitive and efficient.

Customer journey mapping helps a business owner gain an overview of their product or service from multiple viewpoints.

Improved customer experience

A journey map is the first step toward gaining a deeper understanding of customer engagement and fostering the flow of customer experience. It can help you to smooth out the customer experience and personalize it across all touchpoints.

Identification of opportunities

In complex business environments, gaps and breakdowns are common. Mapping out how a user interacts with your brand and/or product may reveal design flaws and areas that need change. 

By charting the entire process, a journey map helps identify gaps and opportunities for improvement that will enhance customer experience.

Competitive advantage

Journey mapping helps a company eliminate design flaws and make its product stand out. Once a UX designer has improved customer experience, this becomes a differentiation factor among competitors in the market.

How does a customer journey map help?

A detailed and well-researched journey map will help you to: 

How much does journey mapping cost?

The cost of journey mapping varies widely. The pricing depends on who’s doing it, how much research you want to do, and the complexity of the customer's journey.

Designing journey maps

Journey maps are unique since they should represent whatever product or service they emulate. Variations of journey maps include:

You can use a third-party tool to build a well-designed journey map, such as:

  • Canvanizer

  • Reveall

  • Miro

  • Gliffy

  • TouchPoint

  • Omnigraffle

However, there are no rules around what you use to build your journey map and can build it using a whiteboard, PDF format, and even Microsoft Paint. As long as it’s an accurate representation of the user’s journey, that’s what counts.

Experience maps

Experience maps are a zoom-out from journey maps. While journey maps represent a single persona’s behavior at each phase of the customer journey, experience maps can include multi-players that may interact with that user, additional products that customers typically use, or perhaps entirely different methods outside technology that users engage with to complete their goals.

Empathy maps

Empathy maps are used to understand customer personas. They do not follow a particular sequence of events along the journey. Empathy maps are divided into four parts and track what the customer does, thinks, says, and feels when using a product.

These can be helpful when defining who the persona is within your journey map.

Service blueprints

Service blueprints focus on how a brand delivers its products and services to customers rather than being customer-centric. In other words, they describe the behind-the-scenes details of the process.

They are mainly concerned with actions performed by every stakeholder in the purchase process. By focusing on service, gaps or friction points are identified and can be eliminated.

Map your brand's path to success

Journey mapping offers many benefits to a company. Once your customer journey map is in place, you will fully understand your customers’ experience.

Looking to understand more about how customers interact with your brand? Learn about affinity maps.

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