Journeys & flows - a playbook of methods for mapping interactions

Journey map

Updated on Sunday, July 26, 2020

a method that helps teams map how users move into and out of the product's ecosystem

Journey Maps, one of the most versatile and useful methods, map how users move into and out of a product ecosystem. You can even map a user's journey across an entire experience. Journey maps help teams list concrete, understandable touchpoints to learn how user's find, access, convert, and return to the product. Journey maps work for products, services, green field, redesigns, and retrofits.

DifficultyAnyone can do this
ParticipantsUp to 6 with or without experience
Time45 minutes (in-person), 1hour 15 minutes (remote) based on complexity and length of the journey
MaterialsStandard stuff: a way to collect ideas and a place to collect them

Download Journey map templates and facilitation guide

journey-map.pptx (133.11 kB). Last modified 07/26/20

How does it work?

Your team is ready to start building, but how do you make sure you build the right things the right way? How do you know what you build will be findable and useful for your users?

  1. First, brainstorm a list of touchpoints the user will encounter.
  2. Second, break the journey into phases.
  3. Third, use swimlanes to identify types of touchpoints.
  4. Last, for key touchpoints, list relevant content, data, processes, and analytics. (Also list relevant pain points, opportunities, and open questions.)

The journey map represents a concrete list of touchpoints you can understand, build, and optimize. Each touchpoint can translate into user stories, or use the journey map can like a user story map and identify a minimum viable product or plan sprints and releases.

Is this for me?

A core method; great for envisioning any product or service

Because Journey Maps align your team around concrete view of the product and the product's ecosystem, journey maps are ideal for kickoffs and development for any kind of product.

Although most useful during solution definition, use Journeys Maps at any stage to identify ways to improve conversion, adoption, and reuse for your product.

Great for problem definition and finding user needs

Maps the current state to identify pain points and opportunities for new products and places where a new product could provide value to users.

Ideal for new products

With a vision for a new product, map the future state of the product's ecosystem to reveal critical touchpoints where new users convert and touchpoints that are more or less important to the user's experience where you need to make it easy for the user to leave and return to your product.

Ideal for redesigns and relaunches

With existing products, journey maps illustrate identify key touchpoints to optimize or redesign.

Alternatives to consider

You may need more or less detailed ways to map systems. Try more detailed methods to map specific features of a system:

If you're not ready to create a Journey Map, try more general ways to map systems:

What do you need?

Inputs

  • Start with a blank slate
  • Start with pre-collected list of behaviors, tasks, or user stories

Outputs

  • List of touchpoints in the system
  • List of phases and interaction types (useful for planning broad initiatives)
  • List of content, data, and processes involved at key touchpoints (and optional metrics, pain points, opportunities, and open questions)

Participants

  • Use on your own
  • Up to 6 participants can collaborate on a single phase at a time
  • For more than 6, split into groups and have each group map a different part of the journey

Materials

  • Some way to collect ideas
  • Somewhere to collect them like a dry erase board or physical or digital wall

Learn more

Book cover for Collaborative Product Design by Austin Govella

Facilitation tips and instructions

Austin Govella provides detailed instructions and facilitation tips for Journey Maps in chapter 16 of his book, Collaborative Product Design. You can view chapter 16 online via O’Reilly’s Safari Books.

The definitive guide to mapping journeys and systems

James Kalbach wrote a comprehensive and definitive book on Mapping Experiences that covers service blueprints, customer journey maps, experience maps, mental model diagrams, spatial maps, and ecosystem models. You can read the book online via O’Reilly’s Safari Books.

Book cover for User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton and Peter Economy

User Story Maps align Journey Maps with agile processes

Jeff Patton and Peter Economy wrote a book about User Story Mapping. You can read the book online via O’Reilly’s Safari Books.

Learn more about analyzing touchpoints

Austin based touchpoint analysis on a service blueprint approach by Erik Flowers and Megan Erin Miller at Practical Service Design. In addition, they wrote a useful article on The difference between a journey map and a service blueprint.