User Journey vs. User Story: How Are They Different?

User Journey vs. User Story: How Are They Different? cover

Are you unsure what the difference between a user journey and a user story is? Both are helpful for your product but have slightly different outcomes.

This article will dive deep into user journey vs. user story and share how they differ.


  • Customer journey maps visualize user experiences, highlighting steps, touchpoints, emotions, pain points, and opportunities for improvement.
  • User stories describe features from the end user’s perspective, improving development prioritization and communication.
  • User journey maps depict the entire user experience, whereas user stories concentrate on specific tasks or features within that journey.
  • Visualizing the overall user experiences through journey maps helps identify pain points and areas for improvement. Meanwhile, user stories define particular requirements and prioritize features.
  • A user journey map is created early in product discovery to inform strategy, while user stories guide feature implementation during planning and development.
  • User journeys are visual flowcharts that map each step and touchpoint to improve interactions. User stories are concise sentences clarifying user needs.
  • A user story map combines user journeys and stories, visually mapping experiences into stages and detailed stories, aiding in prioritization and cohesive development.
  • If you need help with user journeys or user stories, Userpilot can help. It offers product analytics, so you can map customer journeys and capture user feedback to validate your user stories. If you want to get started, book a demo now.

Try Userpilot and Take Your User Journey to the Next Level

What are user journeys?

User journeys, represented by customer journey maps, highlight the entire user experience as they interact with your product or service. They map out the steps a user takes from the beginning to the end of a specific process, identifying key touchpoints, actions, and emotions.

By understanding the user’s path, you can see how they move through different stages and what they experience along the way.

A journey map helps you visualize the user’s entire process, making it easier to understand their needs and expectations. These maps are crucial because they show where users might face difficulties or pain points during their journey.

By knowing where users struggle and where they have positive experiences, you can make more informed decisions about improving your product.

A diagram of a user journey map
User journey map. Source: Canva.

What are user stories?

User stories are short, simple descriptions of a feature from the end user’s perspective. They help to answer how a feature will add value to a user’s journey. By focusing on the user’s needs and goals, user stories ensure that development teams create features that truly benefit the end user.

A user story usually focuses on three areas: as a (who), I want to (what), and so that (why). Acceptance criteria follow this.

For example, let’s take the example of a segmentation feature in an email marketing tool. A user story might look like this:

“As a marketing manager, I want to segment my email list based on user behavior to send more targeted and relevant emails.”

The acceptance criteria would specify the conditions that must be met for the story map to be complete, such as:

  • The segmentation feature should allow users to create segments based on at least three user behaviors.
  • Users should be able to save and edit segments.
  • The feature should be integrated into the existing email campaign creation process.

Creating user stories offers several benefits. They help ensure that each feature delivers real value to the end user. By breaking down features into manageable pieces, user stories make prioritizing development work easier and ensure the most important features are built first.

A image of a user story template
User story template. Source: ProductPlan.

User journey vs. user story: main differences

Understanding the distinction between user journeys and user stories is crucial for creating a seamless user experience and effective product development. Let’s explore the main differences between these two concepts.

Scope of the customer experience

A customer journey maps out a user’s entire end-to-end experience, covering all interactions and touchpoints from start to finish. Journey mapping helps understand the complete user experience and identify a pain point.

A user story map focuses on a single task or feature a user needs to achieve within the broader journey. This approach zeroes in on specific features to ensure they provide value and effectively meet user needs.

Purpose of creation

The purpose of a user journey map is to understand and visualize the overall user experience, helping to identify pain points and opportunities for improvement.

A user story aims to define specific, actionable requirements for development to ensure features meet specific user needs. Additionally, it aids in prioritization of tasks to focus on the most important aspects first.

Stage of creation

User journeys are typically created during the early stages of product discovery and research to inform the overall strategy. This helps set a clear direction based on user insights gathered during the discovery process.

User story maps are developed after the discovery phase – usually during planning and development to guide the design decisions and implementation of features. This ensures that each feature is well-defined and aligned with user needs, following the product development process.


A user journey is represented as a visual flowchart or map that outlines each step and touchpoint in the user experience, helping to improve customer interactions.

A user story is a short sentence written in the format: “As a [persona], I [want to], [so that].”

The framework of a typical user story
User story framework. Source: TiSDD.

Final outcomes for the product team

A user journey provides a comprehensive and holistic view of the user’s interaction with the product, helping teams identify improvements, pain points, and opportunities to enhance the overall product experience.

A user story results in a clear and actionable requirement for a specific feature, ensuring focused development and preventing feature bloat.

How do user story maps combine both user journeys and stories?

A user story map combines elements of both user journeys and user story mapping.

User story maps visually map out the entire user experience into high-level stages (user journey) and then break these into detailed, actionable customer stories. This integration helps teams understand the overall flow and prioritize specific features for development.

Story mapping allows teams to see how different parts of the user experience fit together, making it easier to identify gaps and opportunities. This approach ensures that key product priorities are aligned with the user’s needs.

A well-constructed user journey map allows product managers and teams to break down complex processes into manageable pieces. This ensures that every feature developed contributes to a cohesive and satisfying user experience.

An example of a user story map
A user story map. Source: Seven Principles Solutions.


If you’re looking to understand how a user is experiencing your app, user journey mapping can help. If you want a clear description of a feature that can align development teams on what they are trying to create, write customer stories.

Consider Userpilot if you want to create a customer journey map or user story. It provides detailed analytics that highlights a user’s journey, enabling you to create a journey map. Userpilot also helps you gather customer feedback to validate that your customer stories are what customers expect. Book a demo now to find out more.

Try Userpilot and Take Your User Journey to the Next Level

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