A comprehensive guide to effective customer journey mapping

A comprehensive guide to effective customer journey mapping

A brand's user experience shapes its target audience's entire perception of your organization. Maximize audience engagement with customer journey mapping.

A comprehensive guide to effective customer journey mapping

A brand's user experience shapes its target audience's entire perception of your organization. Maximize audience engagement with customer journey mapping.

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Incorporating customer journey mapping into your web design process helps elevate consumer engagement to drive loyalty and sales.

Many in-house teams and web designers strive to better serve users by optimizing their customer experience (CX). Considering how your customers use your platform or service helps you see your website from a user perspective, letting you shape your design to better meet their needs. To achieve this, web designers can look to customer journey mapping.

A particularly handy tool for user experience (UX) design, this process helps teams understand who their users are and how to fulfill their expectations, guiding development decisions for improved audience engagement. Learn more about customer journey mapping and how you can implement it to enhance your CX.

User journey mapping: an overview

User journey mapping, also known as customer journey mapping (CJM), maps a website visitor's experience from their perspective. Presented through a visual diagram, the customer journey map charts the user’s path as they seek information or solutions, starting at the homepage and tracking their routes across other menus and links.

To create a customer journey map, you begin by researching who users are, what they want from your site, and how positive or negative their experiences have been. 

There are two main purposes for mapping your customers’ journey.

1. Improve customer experience

This is the ultimate goal of CJM. Site navigation can be especially tricky to assess because you’re already familiar with the layout. A fresh perspective on your site often uncovers overlooked details such as navigation issues or broken links.

By conducting research on UX trends and visually mapping your results, you’ll identify any parts of your design that confuse or frustrate visitors. This process also reveals areas that work well, which you can repurpose elsewhere in the design.

2. Maintains ease-of-use as your site grows

A customer journey map can make even a simple site more straightforward to navigate. When your website or business grows, you may need to add content and features to accommodate the expansion. Implementing customer journey mapping ensures your website's fundamental flow remains intuitive and that new material and features are easily discoverable and usable.

Primary user journey map types

There are various ways to approach customer journey mapping based on the specific insights you’re seeking. The end result of each map will look similar, but the focus of each is different — which changes the information it offers. Here are three standard types of maps to get you started.

Current state

The current state map is the most common type. It evaluates your website’s present state to better understand visitors’ current experiences, helping identify improvement opportunities for its existing design.

Future state

A future state map explores a hypothetical "ideal" website, considering the visitor’s experience if every site component were optimized. This map is helpful when planning a total redesign or a specific change. When you collect user research and translate the results into your map, you can present a visual outline to your client or company for a straightforward explanation.


A persona-based map lays out the journey of a single designated type of user, or persona (which we will define below). This type of diagram is useful when optimizing your website for a specific sector of your audience with particular needs.

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The 5-step customer journey mapping process

Once you’ve set clear goals for your map’s achievements, you can select the appropriate diagram type. To begin visualizing your user journey, follow this five-step process.

1. Define the map’s scope

Your map may focus on just one customer interaction or outcome, such as finding the newsletter sign-up sheet or making a payment, or it could cover the entire website’s navigation. A focused scope helps you troubleshoot a problem area or ensure an especially critical element functions properly. Alternatively, a larger-scope map provides a big-picture perspective of how the site works as a whole. Creating a comprehensive map is more complex, but high-level mapping helps comprehend the entire user experience from beginning to end.

2. Determine your user personas

A persona describes a particular type of visitor using your site. When imagining and defining these users, you can assign a name to each and include details about who they are, what they’re looking for, and why.

Focus on users who contribute most to your business goals, consulting your marketing or sales teams for insights. To define your customer personas, explore current user behavior through surveys, online reviews, and email list responsiveness.

For example, if you’re creating a website for a store that sells artisanal coffee-making tools, your personas could be:

  • The gift giver. This user only knows a little about coffee but wants to select an impressive gift for someone else. They’ll need help with purchase decisions, so they might interact with an FAQ or chat feature before visiting the products page. They may also leave your site if overwhelmed by options, so it’s important to offer helpful information proactively. This will keep them engaged and more likely convert them to paying customers.
  • The coffee nerd. This person is knowledgeable and always seeks the highest-quality tools, so easily accessible product details and customer reviews are important to them. To support their user experience and encourage them to purchase, ensure these elements are easily discoverable.
  • The tourist. This user is on vacation and looking for a cute brick-and-mortar shop to visit. They aren't interested in your online store, but an appealing photo of your physical store with easily accessible hours and location information may convince them to come by in person.

These three types of users have very different needs and goals when visiting your website. To capture all of their business, create a map for each of them to ensure you accommodate their specific wants and circumstances.

3. Give the personas context

User context is the “when” and “how” of each persona visiting your site. A user will have a different experience loading your site on a mobile device than on a laptop. Additionally, someone in no rush may use your website differently than someone looking more urgently with a specific purpose.

Figure out when, how, and in what mindset your personas most commonly visit your site to map their experience accurately. This context has very concrete impacts on your finished design. If visitors tend to look for one specific page whenever in a hurry (like contact or location information), placing those details on the front page or prominently linking to it will smooth the user experience for those users.

Here’s an example of how to place a persona in context.

Persona: Jo is an apartment hunter in her early 20s and is still in college. She's looking for off-campus housing for herself and some roommates. The collective group values location and cost more than apartment features.

Context: Jo is in a hurry and trying to visit as many apartments as possible. She’s looking at property rental websites that clearly state apartment addresses in each listing.

Method: Jo is browsing the sites on her iPhone.

4. List persona touchpoints

Touchpoints mark when the user makes a purchase decision or interacts with your user interface (UI). They include visitors' actions to move toward their goals and consider each associated emotion. The first touchpoint is how they reach your website — such as tapping a social media ad, clicking on a search result, or entering your URL directly.

First, list each action the visitor took and their corresponding emotional reactions. Subsequent touchpoints include instances when they navigate a menu, click a button, scroll through a gallery, or fill out a form. When you diagram the route through your site in an A-to-Z path, you can place yourself in the persona's mind to understand their reactions and choices.

A met expectation — for example, when clicking a "shop" button takes them to a product gallery — will result in a positive emotional reaction. An unmet expectation — when the “shop" link leads to an error page — will provoke an adverse reaction.

5. Map the customer journey

Illustrate the user journey by mapping these touchpoints on a visual timeline. This creates a narrative of users’ reactions across your entire service blueprint. To represent your users’ emotional states at each touchpoint, graph their correspondences like this:

An example map of touchpoints.

The map helps you understand the customer experience as a whole. 

For example, based on the diagram above, touchpoint 3 is the largest navigation challenge on the website. The graph also shows that the user's mood eventually rebounds after the initial setback. Improving the problem element in touchpoint 3 will have the biggest impact on elevating the overall user experience.

Customer journey mapping best practices

Now that you understand the mapping process, here are some best practices to implement when charting your customer journey. 

  • Set a clear objective for your map: Define your CX map’s primary goal, such as improving the purchase experience or increasing conversions for a specific product.
  • Solicit customer feedback: Engage directly with customers through surveys or interviews so you can implement data-driven changes. Ask users about their journey pain points and invite both positive and negative feedback on the overall navigation.
  • Specify customer journey maps for each persona: To specifically serve each customer persona, consider charting separate paths for each based on their behaviors and interests. This approach is more customer-centric, as not all user types interact with your website the same way.
  • Reevaluate your map after company or website changes: As your business scales, your website must evolve — and so will your customer’s path. Review your map when making both large and small website adjustments to ensure you don’t introduce new user challenges. Navigational disruptions can frustrate visitors, causing would-be customers to leave your site and seek competitors.

Optimize your user journey map with Webflow

A user journey map is only as effective as the improvements it promotes. When redesigning your website based on insights your map provides, explore Webflow’s vast resource bank to streamline your design processes. 

Webflow offers web design support with diverse guides, tutorials, and tools for straightforward web design. Visit Webflow today to learn how its site hosting, e-commerce, and collaboration resources support enhanced user experience for better engagement.

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Last Updated
February 1, 2024
Build with Webflow

Webflow Enterprise gives your teams the power to build, ship, and manage sites collaboratively at scale.

Contact sales
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