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A simple guide to User Journeys

A simple guide to User Journeys

User journey – In the simplest terms user journeys are the paths a user may take to reach a specific goal when using a particular website.

In designing any user interface I use them to visually identify different ways to enable the user to achieve their goal quickly and easily. Certain steps make logical sense and some steps that are put forth to help the user feel comfortable in understanding the process. In terms of User Experience, the user’s journey should be mapped out in the simplest process so that anyone can follow. It’s important for the journey to not only have the right visual iconography but also evoke an emotional connection.

First things first, UNDERSTANDING whose using your website

In creating realistic user journeys, it’s important to identify users through “User Profiling”. Each user is given a task or goal that they are trying to meet through using any interface, whether it is checking out and buying a product, finding the menu for brunch options or canceling your membership to that 7-day trial you forgot about. Users have a need and the steps they take to satisfy that need is referred to as a User Journey. Each user goal can be first mapped out using the current website to identify any flaws or frustrations. This is often referred to as user journey mapping or customer journey mapping. Once you have an understanding of existing user journeys you can then set out their recommended user journey – one which is as simple and easy as possible for users to reach their goals. This will form the basis of the new website.

Here’s a basic example of what a user journey might entail for someone wanting to buy a new phone charger

Andrew is trying to buy a new charger online, but his credit card has expired. He’ll need to log into his account and change his payment information. He’s about travel home for the holidays and needs to be able to charge his phone on the drive.



  • Andrew goes to his Tablet
  • He opens the browser and types in the URL to his go-to electronic E-commerce site
  • He logs into the site
  • Once he’s is logged in he sees the account icon in the top right-hand corner
  • After clicking on the icon he is presented with a slide out screen displaying tabs that contain his account information.
  • He clicks on payments tab, and his credit card information shows up
  • Now he enters his updated credit card information and hits save
  • He clicks on the search bar and does a search for type of charger he needs
  • The search results come back and he clicks on the charger he wants to buy for his trip
  • He is presented with the check-out cart which asks him if he is ready to pay with his updated payment info

In just a few bullets the User Journey becomes a valuable guide that reflects a simplistic motive of buying a new charger.  Purchasing phone accessories could be the revenue driven Business Goal, the Persona of Andrew might be a statistical average of the Primary User Group and the Identified User Tasks could be updating your payment information. Now we can take this and look at the UI side of things. We’ve created a simple User Journey that’s loaded with actionable steps that require a specific UI Element.  Search bars, date pickers, drop downs and radio buttons that will ultimately help Andrew accomplish his goal.

Here are some sample questions to help you understanding your audience so you can create better personas that will ultimately set the tone for to build a simple User Journey

  • What’s the average age of the people that you think will be using this interface?
  • Will they be using a mobile device to access it?
  • What types of online websites do they visit?
  • Does this interface have a direct competitor? If so, who is it?
  • If the new interface was able to do one thing to make your user happy, what would it do?
  • What would make them recommend this online interface?

The goal is to create some procedural concepts to captivate the attention of a user and walk them through a series of steps that condition them to achieve their desired outcome. In complex environments, the Persona of the user and the Journey come together to create an atmosphere that can accurately define what UI elements are needed and how to steer a User Experience through a visual design. User journeys are an important part of rebuilding a website’s interface by highlighting the current issues and producing an ideal picture from a typical user’s perspective early in the process. As long as the company understands that they have to balance business goals with the user needs, the user journeys are an invaluable tool in improving the overall user experience.