GuidesUser experience (UX)How to carry out effective user experience mapping

How to carry out effective user experience mapping

Last updated

11 March 2023


Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Jean Kaluza

Any user experience (UX) designer will tell you it’s nearly impossible to launch a successful UX design campaign without creating a user experience map.

Customers are now choosing products and services based on the experiences they deliver rather than their features or functions. Therefore, to build a product that customers love, you’ll need to understand what they experience as they interact with your product.

By mapping the journey from a customer’s perspective, you can identify any customer pain points and strategic opportunities. Ultimately, this enables you to generate innovative solutions to improve the customer experience.

Here’s everything you need to know about effective user experience mapping.

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What is user experience mapping?

Also known as customer journey mapping, user experience mapping is a standard UX design technique aimed at understanding your customer’s needs, concerns, and hesitations as they interact with your product or service.

A good user experience map will use visuals and storytelling to illustrate how the customer relates to your business over time.

By mapping out the user experience, you get to see how your potential customers first perceive your brand. These perceptions include emotions, pain points, and needs throughout the sales process. You can then use this information to improve the experience.

Why is user experience mapping worthwhile?

The whole point of user experience mapping is to obtain a real-world understanding of what customers go through when they interact with your product. The end goal is to improve the quality of the customer’s experience with your product and allow for a seamless overall experience.

More than anything, it involves listening to your customers and then tailoring the user experience to their advantage.

Experience mapping can help in the following ways:

  • Obtaining an overview of the whole customer experience as they interact with your product

  • Consolidating teams to resolve common customer pain points and make the necessary developments

  • Increasing customer conversion rates by reducing negative customer interactions

  • Improving customer retention by identifying fallout points and creating a more seamless interaction

Types of user experience mapping

UX designers use five main mapping techniques to build a comprehensive user experience map. Each one achieves a different goal and involves a different process.

Empathy mapping

As the name suggests, empathy mapping will help you develop empathy for your target audience by understanding their mindset.

This technique involves gathering each person’s individual feelings, actions, thoughts, needs, and wants to get a holistic view of how they interact with a particular design. This reveals their motivations, goals, and pain points.

Customer journey mapping

With this technique, UX designers focus on a user’s experience with a particular service or product. They do this by establishing a chronological (step-by-step) representation of the major touch points as the user interacts with it.

Customer journey mapping begins from the moment the user learns about the product to when they finish using it. This method is fundamental in addressing conversion rate bottlenecks and other marketing concerns, especially in the digital space.

Experience mapping

This type of map takes a more wholesome approach to the UX design process. Instead of focusing on the product or service, experience maps focus on a high-level understanding of the target audience and their behavior when trying to achieve a certain goal.

Ultimately, an experience map helps you understand your customer’s experience independently of your product.

Service blueprinting

Service blueprinting focuses more on the company’s responsibilities during the design process and how they deliver the service. It helps the organization identify and tweak its process to serve the end user in the best way possible.

The technique mainly involves looking into the back and forth between the company and how a user interacts with the product. It includes the processes that need to take place on the company’s side to ensure that everything is executed successfully. The overall aim is to enhance the service and product quality.

Scenario mapping

This kind of map considers particular scenarios that occur during the user interaction journey rather than the whole journey. They are typically mapped out against the specific feature of a product to isolate and zoom into a particular experience.

Scenario mapping can help address specific points where the design is underperforming.

Fundamentals of UX mapping

There are a few essential elements that every user experience map should have.

Point of view

When establishing a point of view, it’s crucial that you consider

  • Your organization’s mission

  • The market segments you’re focusing on

  • The knowledge gaps you are looking to fill

  • Your organization’s goals

As always, the mapping should be done from a customer’s point of view. Ensure that you pinpoint the exact individual whose experience you are mapping and the part of their experience you’ll be including in the map.


The scope of a user experience map determines when the experience starts and ends. To establish your scope, you’ll need to understand the purpose of mapping and how it relates to your organization’s needs.

A clearly defined scope should establish whether your focus is on a discrete problem or the entire system. This will ensure the process is focused and actionable.


The focus shows the kind of information that you’ll include in the map. Your main focus should be on the end user’s needs and desires. Actions, feelings, and thoughts are some parameters that are often included.


Once you have your point of view, focus, and scope, you’ll need to select a structure for your experience map.

After collecting customer viewpoints, perhaps by conducting interviews, you can listen carefully to each feedback session and break down your findings by thoughts, feelings, and actions. Once you have completed this for all the feedback, see if you can map the findings out chronologically.

The following techniques can help you do this:

  • Using software like Excel or Google Sheets to categorize findings into their respective blocks

  • Jotting the feedback down onto post-its so that you can move them around easily during group brainstorming sessions

  • Using colors to indicate thoughts, feelings, and actions (some people also find it helpful to color-code negative thoughts versus positive thoughts)

Selecting the format

The first thing you should consider when choosing a format is the individual or entity that will be consuming the information in the diagram. Have a clear idea of the map’s end goal, the problems you intend to solve, and the knowledge gaps you want to fill.

Clarifying how the map will be used is also important. Are you looking for an overview of the entire system, or do you want to focus on a particular problem? Will you need just one map or multiple maps showcasing the present and future state of a particular experience?

Creating a user experience map

The following are the fundamental steps you should follow to create an effective user experience map:

Define your persona

First of all, you’ll need to understand who your target customers are by formulating a persona. This will allow you to understand what your customers need and how they interact with your product.

Consider different user types, such as your current customers, intended customers, or a full customer segment. Touch on common traits and then single out each persona’s experience.

Ultimately, you want to create an experience with each different persona in mind.

Define your phases

User experience maps are usually structured in stages or phases. Each phase will represent a goal your end user aims to achieve on their journey.

You should be able to illustrate how, when, and where your end user

  • Discovered your product

  • Found out about your product

  • Chose you over your competitors

  • Made the purchase

This should help develop ways of maintaining a healthy relationship.

Describe the touchpoints your customer uses to interact with your organization

Touchpoints refer to each point where the customer interacts with your product.

A user will typically go through multiple touchpoints before achieving their end goal: from their first visit to your website to viewing ratings, signing up for a product, contacting customer service, and making a purchase.

You’ll need to establish a list of key touchpoints (from start to finish), which you will then optimize to best serve the end user.

Conduct research

The next step is to conduct research by contacting the user directly.

You can’t use guesses and assumptions to accurately establish a user experience map. Instead, it should be based on real-time data collected from surveys, interviews, and observations from real people. Only then can you innovate appropriate solutions based on users’ needs.

Start by recruiting participants from your existing customers. Then, you can explore other channels like social media and classified ads. Alternatively, you can consult third-party organizations that specialize in finding target audiences for research.

Interactions can range from phone interviews to web surveys and in-person interviews. For best results, offer some incentives.

Here are some of the things you can ask about when conducting research:

  • The individual’s feelings toward a certain process

  • The story, beginning to end, of the person’s experience with your product or service (in their own words)

  • How the individual feels during interactions at different points of the story

  • Any pain points the person experiences during the interactions with the different stages or touchpoints

  • How long it takes to go through each phase of interactions with the product

Determine friction points

After establishing your persona and understanding their goals, the next step is to identify friction points. You can arrive at these based on data from the previous steps, and it’s best done in a group. Go through each phase and flag any points that need improvement.


The final step is to create solutions for the points of friction you’ve discovered. Make sure you address every problem you discover with the design.


What is a customer journey in UX?

A customer journey refers to the total sum of experiences an established or potential customer/user undergoes when interacting with your organization or brand to achieve a certain goal.

By looking at the experience from the customer’s perspective, a customer journey documents the entire experience that a customer has with your product or service. It highlights their frustrations and moments of delight.

What are user experience mapping tools?

These are digital tools that gather and display data about how customers interact with your product or service. They then present them in a format that can be easily understood.

These tools help by tracking user paths across your various platforms. Examples of such tools include Axure, Figma, and Miro. They will help you understand areas where you can invest in order to establish a better customer experience.

When should user experience mapping be used?

User experience maps can be created at any point in the product design process. They can help identify user needs, wants, and expectations and highlight the path they might take to reach a particular goal.

The technique can also be used to evaluate the state of an existing product. This enables you to understand any faults and pain points customers experience when interacting with it and correct them.

Why use experience mapping over other methods?

Unlike other methods, an experience map will visually illustrate your customer’s journey throughout their entire interaction with your company to achieve a certain goal.

With this information, you can understand your customer’s needs, motivations, concerns, and hesitations in real time and take active steps to improve their experience.

What is a touchpoint in a user experience map?

Touchpoints in user experience maps are the key points of interaction between a customer and your brand. Examples include when the customer finds your business online or through an ad, views ratings and reviews, contacts customer services, and purchases your product.

A passenger’s experience on the subway offers great examples of different touchpoints in a customer journey map.

First, the passenger will buy a ticket. Where and how do they buy it? Then, they will either travel straight away or leave and return to travel later. Next, they will enter the station via the turnstiles. Then, they might find a bench. Finally, they will board the train. When they exit the train, is it clear where they need to go next? Etc.

How often should you update your user experience map?

Ideally, you should review your user experience map every time you launch a new product. Best practice is to do it quarterly or every six months.

Your goal should be to assess how your current methods align with your business goals and how you can expand your reach.

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