User Experience Journey Mapping: What Is It and How to Create Your Own Map?

User Experience Journey Mapping: What Is It and How to Create Your Own Map? cover

How can user experience journey mapping help teams design engaging products?

This is one of the questions that the article tackles. We also:

  • Explain what UX journey maps are
  • Outline the main benefits of user journey mapping
  • List key journey map elements
  • Show you how to create a user journey map for your SaaS product

Let’s dive in!


  • A UX journey map is a diagram outlining user flow through the product, from the moment they first find out about it till they achieve their objectives.
  • User experience journey mapping helps teams better understand their users and the challenges they experience when using the product.
  • Insights gathered when mapping out user journeys can also help teams build frictionless user experiences which lead to higher product adoption and customer retention.
  • User personas represent key user segments and provide information about their JTBDs, demographics, professional backgrounds, goals, and needs.
  • The journey map consists of a few main stages, like acquisition or adoption, each with its unique goals.
  • During each of the stages, users interact with the product at different touchpoints and experience different emotions. All this also goes into the customer’s journey map.
  • The journey map also includes information about user pain points at each of the touchpoints and possible solutions.
  • The first step in the user experience journey mapping process is defining the user personas.
  • When you know who your user personas are, identify relevant touchpoints for each of them. Product analytics tools like path analysis can help with that.
  • Next, collect quantitative and qualitative data about user experiences at the various touchpoints to identify their pain points and expectations.
  • Use a template, for example, from Canva or Miro, to create the map.
  • After that, reach out to your users and invite them to participate in interviews, focus groups, and usability testing to validate your user map.
  • User experience journey mapping is an ongoing process. Constantly update it as new data emerges from user feedback and analytics.
  • Userpilot is a product growth platform that you can use to research user personas, analyze user interactions with the product, and improve user experience with UI patterns. Book the demo to discover how!

Try Userpilot and Take Your User Experience to the Next Level

What is a UX journey map?

The user experience journey map is a visualization of all the user interactions with the product from the moment they first learn about it until they achieve their goals in the product.

The purpose of a UX journey map is to help teams better understand the user experiences and emotions at different stages of the user journey and guide their work to refine the UX.

Why is user journey mapping important?

Customer journey mapping is a key tool in the UX and CX design process for several reasons.

Here are a few of the most important ones.

Helps to understand user behavior on a granular level

The journey mapping process gives teams in-depth insights into user behavior.

By looking closely at how users interact with the product at all touchpoints, you can better empathize with your customers and understand their needs, motivations, and pain points.

All of these are essential for building products that genuinely meet user expectations and help them achieve their objectives.

Creates frictionless customer experiences

By outlining all user interactions at different touchpoints, user journey mapping helps teams design frictionless customer experiences.

For example, you may be able to identify steps that are unnecessary for customers to complete or areas where they face difficulties. That knowledge allows you to address potential issues proactively and streamline the user experience.

Increases product adoption and customer retention

By smoothing out the user journey, you help them reach the next stages, be it product activation, adoption, or advocacy.

This translates into high user retention rates and customer lifetime value, and consequently helps you achieve your business goals.

Key components of a user journey map

What are user journey maps made up of? What kind of information do they contain?

Let’s explore.

User persona

User personas are fictional characters that represent different types of users that help you empathize with your target users and better understand their needs.

The odds are that your target audience is not a homogeneous group. For example, a performance and fitness platform tool like TrainingPeaks caters to coaches as well as athletes.

As these two types of users have different goals and use the tool differently, there are two UX journeys to map out.

Context and user goals

Talking of goals, your user journey map needs to include what each user persona wants to achieve in the product and the contexts in which the product is used – both real and anticipated ones.

For example, a coach uses TrainingPeaks to develop training plans for their athletes and track their performance, while the athletes will use it to access the workouts, record their workouts, and share them with their coach.

If you’re developing a new functionality, for example, adding an AI-powered feature that enables you to forecast athletes’ race performance, you will need to map out a new journey.

User journey stages

User journey stages are the core element of the map – everything else is organized around them.

What stages are we talking about?

Some classic examples include:

  • Awareness – the user finds out about the product
  • Evaluation – they start considering it as a possible solution to their problem
  • Acquisition – they sign up for the free trial or purchase the product
  • Activation – they experience product value firsthand and start realizing it
  • Adoption and retention – the user starts using the product regularly as their go-to solution
  • Advocacy – they start promoting their product in their social and professional circles

The stages are most likely to be the same for all user personas but what happens at each stage may differ dramatically.

Essential user journey template.

User actions and emotions

To be of any use for optimizing the UX, the journey map needs to have information about user actions at different touchpoints.

For example, this could be clicking on the banner advert at the awareness stage, submitting a demo request at the evaluation stage, or completing an onboarding checklist during activation.

It doesn’t stop there.

Apart from the actions, your map should also include information about the associated emotions, like curiosity when clicking on the ad, confusion when watching the demo, or excitement when logging in for the first time.

Pain points and opportunities to improve the customer experience

The journey map should also contain information about the customer pain points that users experience at different stages and potential solutions.

These are your opportunities to improve the UX/CX, which is one of the main goals of the exercise.

How to create your own customer journey map?

Now that we know what the UX journey map is and what elements to include, let’s create one. Here’s how.

1. Identify the personas to include in your own user journey map

As you may expect, identifying and creating user personas is the first in the process. This narrows down the scope of the map and gives it focus.

What information should you gather about your user personas?

Let’s have a look at our template.

It includes details about:

  • Jobs to be done/goals
  • Company details
  • Pains and challenges
  • Team collaboration
  • How they can benefit from using your product

Don’t worry if don’t have all the information at hand at this stage. As you research their behavior later on, more insights will emerge.

Pro tip: to help your teams build a connection with your customer persona, give them a name and a photo.

User persona template.

2. Identify key touchpoints in the user journey

Once you have identified the user personas, it’s time to define their main customer touchpoints at each stage of the journey.

For example, at the awareness stage, it could be all your PPC ads or social media posts. At the acquisition stage, the sign-up form, and at the advocacy stage – the in-app messages promoting your referral scheme.

Start by listing all the touchpoints that you can think of.

Next, use analytics tools to add all the touchpoints you have missed. Useful tools for that are path analysis and session recordings, as they show you all the actions that users take on a page or inside the product.

The point of this exercise isn’t to list all possible paths that users may take but the most likely or common one.

Session recordings, coming to Userpilot in Q2 2024, can help you identify user journey touchpoints.
Session recordings, coming to Userpilot in Q2 2024, can help you identify user journey touchpoints.

3. Conduct user research to note their pain points and expectations

With all the touchpoints listed, it’s time for a bit more in-depth research.

Qualitative research is particularly important as it allows you to understand why users behave in a particular way and what challenges they experience.

You can get this data from:

  • User interviews and focus groups
  • User observations – either live or by watching session recordings
  • Conversations with the customer-facing teams – your colleagues from the sales or customer support team engage with customers daily and have lots of anecdotal information about their pain points and expectations
  • Social listening – for example, user comments on social media or forums
  • In-app and email surveys – these could be general, like CSAT, or touchpoint-specific and triggered contextually
A survey about user challenges, created in Userpilot
A survey about user challenges, created in Userpilot.

Quantitative data comes from web and product analytics tools. Common types of analysis that you can use to identify bottlenecks in the user journey include:

  • Funnel analysis – to identify the stage in the user journey when the user experiences friction
  • Heatmap analysis – to identify specific UI elements where the user struggles.

4. Use a user journey map template for visual representation

The easiest way to create a customer journey map is by using a template. There are plenty of these available so there’s no point reinventing one.

Here are links to a few solid ones:

Canva Doodle Sketch customer journey map template

Miro customer journey map template

Figma user journey map template

User journey map template. Source: Canva.
User journey map template. Source: Canva.

5. Validate your customer journey maps through user feedback and testing

Even if your research is robust, the UX journey map is only what you think happens, not necessarily the actual user’s journey. To make sure your map accurately reflects the real experiences of your users, you need to validate it.

This involves using similar methods to those you used for researching user personas, so quantitative user behavior analysis, interviews, focus groups, and usability testing.

To recruit participants, reach out to them in-app, for example, by triggering a slideout, like this one.

A slideout inviting users to take part in an interview, created in Userpilot
A slideout inviting users to take part in an interview, created in Userpilot.

Choosing the right participants isn’t so straightforward.

Your power users might seem the obvious choice, partly because they are the easiest to recruit, but they might not be the most representative sample. They’re the most successful users, after all, so they may not share the same pain points as others.

Instead, use your product analytics tool to find a wide range of users with various demographic characteristics.

Targetted messaging of a specific user segment in Userpilot
Targetted messaging of a specific user segment in Userpilot.

6. Continuously update and refine your user journey maps

UX journey mapping isn’t a one-off activity.

As your customer needs, the competitive landscape change and your product evolves, so do user interactions, rendering the map obsolete and inaccurate.

That’s why it’s essential to update your user map regularly.

Monitor product analytics for changes in interaction patterns, constantly collect customer feedback, conduct ongoing user research, and tweak the journey map as you go.

Instead of big occasional updates, make it an iterative process.


User experience journey mapping allows teams to understand their user and their interactions with the product. The map also guides UX improvement and helps provide a consistent experience at all stages of the journey.

If you want to see how Userpilot can help you collect the data for your user journey and validate it, book the demo!

Try Userpilot and Take Your User Experience to the Next Level

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