Mapping User Journeys Using Visual Languages
By Shean Malik Published: April 7, 2014 “Journey mapping helps us to create a mental model of an experience that the user goes through to achieve a goal.” A user journey, or journey map, visualizes a path or flow through a Web site, application, or service experience—from a starting point to an end objective—based on the user’s motivations and experiences. Journey mapping helps us to create a mental model of an experience that the user goes through to achieve a goal. This valuable information lets us document and visualize existing paths that the user takes and, in turn, analyze and improve upon them. This sounds wonderful does’t it? Well, it is. But we often encounter problems when we start trying to communicate these journeys in a language that presents well and adds value. A common approach that UX architects have taken in visualizing journey maps has been to use the symbols of flowcharts and process charts—that is, generic shapes like boxes and arrows—in representing these paths. But we’ve lacked any meaningful way of representing the actual experience, and this is at least as important to understand and use as the basis for our work as the process flow itself. The conventional approach to journey mapping, shown in Figure 1, is uninspiring.