User Journey Maps: Components and Types

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 5, 2022 | Published April 13, 2021

Updated October 5, 2022

Published April 13, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An infographic showing a person adding a note to an empathy map on a whiteboard. The sections of the empathy map include think and feel, see, say and do, and hear, as well as sections for pains and gains.

The user journey is a map of a person's relationship to a product and how their interactions with the product develop over time. This method of testing is especially helpful in determining how efficiently a customer can use a product. Though primarily used for software, businesses can implement user journey mapping for any product and through various mediums.

In this article, we learn what user journey mapping is, including the components and types.

What is a user journey map?

A user journey map, or customer journey map, is a visualization of how a user interacts with product from beginning to end. Depending on the outcome, the creator of the user journey map makes adjustments to ensure that the customer has the best experience with the product. User journey mapping is a versatile tool that you can use for marketing, merchandising and UX development. Some additional details that are important to know about user journey mapping include:

User flows

User flows, also called UX models, show the complete path that a user follows over the course of their technical journey with a product. User flows originate from flow charts and present data on how easily a customer used a product or navigated a system. The user flow presents the task the user wants to accomplish, and then you can make subsequent alterations to accommodate their needs. User flows are most concerned about finding the best solution to complete an action, while the journey map focuses on the entire customer experience.

Read more: A Definitive Guide To User Flow

Elements on a user journey map

User journey maps should be richly detailed and include accurate and timely data-specific elements. They include the different factors that are involved in the user's experience with a product or software. A business or brand can learn more about a user's needs and gain valuable insight into how a user felt during their time with the product by determining:

  • A timescale of the user's journey over a specific period, such as one week

  • A list of scenarios and sequences that a user must follow to accomplish an action or goal

  • The touch points that represent the user's interactions with the product at each stage

  • The mediums or channels that show where they are performing the action

  • The user's emotions at each touch point

The AIDA model

AIDA stands for:

  • Awareness

  • Interest

  • Desire

  • Action

The AIDA model is the theory that users move through a sequence of stages when deciding to finance or purchase a product. The user's journey begins at the cognitive stage, where they think about a product. After the cognitive stage is the affective stage, where they contemplate how they feel about the product. The last step is the behavioral stage, where they take an action to purchase or try the product. Developers and marketers use the AIDA model to preserve resources and make product-making process more efficient.

Why are user journey maps important?

User journey maps are important because they are one of the best ways to get a direct perspective of a customer's success with your product. The main focus of user journey maps is understanding the customer experience to tailor your product to your audience. With the data you get from a user journey map, you can:

  • Restructure your workflow to better meet your users' needs

  • Focus your resources on a more targeted audience

  • Provide better customer service

  • Improve your retention rates, which increases your financial gains and generates a more loyal consumer base

  • Clearly define the vision that you have for your product or project

  • Improve your ability to understand user behavior

  • Improve functionality of the product

Read more: What Is a Journey Map? Definition, Elements, Uses and Benefits

5 components of a user journey map

User journey maps have the following five components:

1. The users

The users are the customers detailed within a user journey map. Clearly defining your user's profile helps you understand who the journey map is for and how to tailor the journey map to fit the user as precisely as possible. The data about the customer should be accurate so that the conducted research reflects the persona of the user.

2. The scenarios

Users have certain expectations of a product, and each scenario shows what type of situation the user is in during their journey. Most users expect the functionality of a product to be simple and easy. Clearly defining the scenarios that a user is in during the stages of the journey map can help you craft the best sequence of events, define the processes that the user needs to follow and identify the best channels or mediums for the user to complete those actions.

3. The stages

The different stages of a journey represent the accumulation of scenarios that the user faces. The stages can vary greatly depending on what type of scenarios the user has to complete. The stages of the journey often provide insight into the feelings of the users and why they took certain actions to make it through each stage in the process. Businesses use this data to help them better assess what specific scenarios they need for each stage.

4. The sentiments

Sentiments are the feelings that the customer experienced throughout their user journey. A user's thoughts and emotions often dictate their actions, which are mapped out at each stage. Knowing the actions of users can help businesses streamline points in the journey that need improvements and make changes that can save time and resources. A user's sentiments can help you identify what questions users might have and what their motivations are for using the product.

5. The opportunities

After a business collects all of the data from the user journey mapping, the opportunities represent where the company can improve and optimize its product. Businesses use this data to create metrics that they try to reach before they reintroduce their product to their user base for another trial. The knowledge they gain from the collected data can also help them determine how to measure the effectiveness of the solutions they implemented.

Read more: How To Create an Effective Customer Journey Map

5 types of user journey maps

User journey maps are useful in all sectors because they are customizable and offer versatility. You can try different user journey map types based on your industry and the results you want to achieve. Here are five types of user journey maps to consider:

1. Experience maps

The experience map focuses primarily on the experiences of users and monitoring their behaviors and actions throughout the entire process. This is the most basic visualization user journey map because it clearly defines the user's steps to accomplish a specific goal. These maps don't have a defined sector or product, and they help you understand exactly what a user wants or needs.

2. Day-in-the-life maps

These maps showcase the behaviors of users in their daily life and how a product may help them achieve their goals and endeavors. Day-in-the-life maps are useful because they provide you with a more intimate look at a user. This kind of user journey map provides data that shows the challenges that a user may face and can make it easier to determine how to handle those obstacles before the user encounters them.

3. Current-state maps

The current-state map identifies how the user interacts with the product at each stage in the process (touch points). This map shows you the user's mindset when they are using your product based on their actions. This map constantly shifts, allowing you to quickly change your product to satisfy customer needs. This is especially helpful for mapping a user's journey as they use software and online technology, which developers can adjust remotely and immediately.

4. Future maps

This user journey map helps you think about how you want customers to use your product and how you can create a guide for users to easily interact with your product. This map is useful for creating goals as you design your product. When using a future map, it's helpful to try to empathize with your intended customer to determine their potential wants and needs.

Read more: What Is User Research?

5. Empathy maps

The empathy map is unique because it does not follow the standard path of scenarios and stages. Instead, the empathy map focuses on the emotions of the user when they're using a product. Empathy maps gather data from interviews and research studies to give businesses an understanding of user sentiments about their experience with a product in real time. This type of user journey map is separated into four categories:

  • What the user says

  • What the user thinks

  • What the user does

  • How the user feels

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