Importance of Journey Mapping

Bryce Thompson

Journey maps are often seen as being a very academic UX artifact, but in practice it helps the business see what we're building, and where to invest.

I left an example audit of DuoLingo to explain what I mean, but here are some points you maybe hadn't considered from the business side.

What does a journey map do?

1 / Journey maps are the vision of the future
Before committing to engineering, let alone visual design you'll want to create a north star vision or the generalized story of what is going to drive value from the perspective of a user. This gets broken down into the very broad phases of an area of investment. If it's more than 5, maybe you need to still zoom out.

2 / Journey maps are measurable
By associating OKRs and/or HEART metrics you can articulate the reasons for investing into specific parts of the broader experience. When you're delivering different stories from inside one of the journey phases, you can continue to measure and ladder those learnings up to the journey map level. This gives the executive level the ability to look into the data behind the broader experience, and why it's validated or needs improvement. It's also why most designers should have a practice of testing to feed into the journey metrics.

3 / Journey maps are a division of labor
They don't just affect design and what we're measuring for, but they also affect how engineering can size larger experiences before digging into the actual story and ticket work. It can help add some predictability at the start of a quarter and shape the backlog. We can also form whole teams around these journey maps, and dedicate resources to developing consensus around each phase.

4 / Journey maps should be easy to understand
10 steps? 20 steps? Interactive? I have done many versions of the journey map, but the most effective is the most easily understood. Pick out key screens or consider how you're closing out the feedback loop of the journey. Most satisfying experiences are .... wait for it... satisfying! So show screens that capture the 'A-ha' from each phase.

5 / Journey maps can be customized to the organization
When we present the journey, also consider your team and what you want to show along each phase, not just user metrics. For example, maybe you want to show "completion status" or you want to show business-specific metrics like revenue or market-fit scoring.


There's so many ways to do journey maps, and they can really be applied to just about anything. I think what clicked for me is shaping the artifact to MY audience in a business setting, and how when we don't have business metrics available, design can still come in and give the org something to measure.