How to build a user journey, methodologies and tools

20 May 2020
2 min

One of the most fundamental aspects of understanding your current audience is through persona and customer journey building. When you know the users who are interacting with your brand, and their respective journeys on a granular level, you can take action to ensure the journey you have laid out for them is seamless and optimized.

When we refer to ‘personas’, we are referring to a collective, working example of users—their behaviors, demographics and psychographics. This ‘persona’ allows us, as marketers, to understand audiences at both a microscopic and macroscopic level.

Making Science looked into a retail site in the UK. We analyzed their database in order to determine trends in their users and derive personas from them. This deep analysis consisted of group studies, one-on-one interviews with clients, data analytics, surveys and much more (some tools leveraged were: UXPressia, Respondent, eSurvey, Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics & Contentsquare).

After aggregating our findings, we were able to identify several personas that had the most impact on the brand as a whole. One such persona, the one we will focus on today, is Jen.

Jen is a 28 year old female who lives in Bristol UK. She is single, works as a curator at a local museum and makes £20,000 per annum. Jen uses this retail outlet to plan for events, such as vacations. She generally struggles with too much information on these retail sites, as there tends to be few filters and guidance on goods she may actually enjoy. The channels she interacts with on a quotidian basis are Instagram, Google, Email, Mail and her friends & family.

How do we know this, and how are we able to be so precise in our findings to define such a persona? Let us break it down:

  1. We observed an emerging trend of a younger (average age of 28) female segment that were predominantly single—about 37% of total audience
  2. Most of the occupations were relating to the arts or creative areas of work
  3. Of these people, it was observed that most of the time their intentions to shop online were driven by special events coming up with the general sentiment of wanting time to browse for items they were thoroughly interested in
  4. The general time from inspiration to purchase was about 1 to 2 weeks—much longer than other personas observed

Now that we have identified a persona, how do we map their journey? For that, we take the subset of candidates who participated in the above methods of research, analyze the data they have already provided (through the tools and procedures above), and map out their journey, visually. Through this process, we can ascertain pain points, opportunities and everything between.

There is a 5 step approach in visualizing the user journey map:

Step 1: Identify the different touchpoints

Touchpoints are all the different places your customers can interact with you as they go through the buying purchase. This includes your website, social channels, paid ads, call centers, in store etc. It is important to understand and define these touchpoints as it will give you an overview of how many touchpoints a user interacts with to convert. It is important to note that when interviewing these customers, always inquire what channels they are referring to when detailing their journeys. A simple, “I went back to the site”, could mean many different things: direct, email, paid search, or even through a voice-activated device.

Jen, again, can be reached on the following channels: Instagram, Google, Email, Mail and her friends & family.

Step 2: Actions users do at each touchpoint 

Now that we know the channels, we need to understand the actions, on a granular level, during each step. Fundamentally, we need to ask the following question incessantly: are they able to find what they need to continue to the next step of the journey? Understanding the actions of our users at each touchpoint illustrates how well each part of the journey is optimized.

For Jen, an example of a notable insight for her actions was that she does not directly engage with paid social advertisements through the native apps, but she will instead go to the site via direct.

Step 3: Understand the user emotions & motivations

Every action your customer takes is motivated by an emotion. We expect our users’ emotions to change as they navigate through different parts of the journey, and the driver is usually caused by a problem they have experienced. Pro tip: sound like a therapist and always ask, “how did that make you feel?”. Even if it is neutral, it is important to know the ebbs and flows of a user’s emotions.

Jen’s emotional journey steadily declined as she made it to the site. She noted no easy way to view recently viewed items, as she tends to browse, not add to cart, and then come back later—this made her journey on the website needlessly difficult. However, the delivery process and post-purchase aspects of her journey were mostly positive—with contactless delivery and being engaged via email concerning sales and promotions.

Step 4: Identify obstacles and pain points that our users are going through 

As you go through the user journey, you will get to know what roadblocks are stopping your users from making the desired action. The most common obstacle is usually cost, when users see the price for the first time it often triggers them to abandon their cart. By understanding what these roadblocks are, we are able to come up with solutions to guide them through them.

Jen notices a wide array of products that she is skeptical about in terms of their pricing, as she spends quite a bit of time researching other brands and their pricing. This is a large pain point, as Jen is now put in a position to ‘leak’ to other competitors and abandoned indefinitely.

Step 5: Provide recommendations to reduce friction 

This is the most rewarding part! You now know who your customers are and have used the data to discover the pain points as they navigate through their journey. Now, you are well equipped to provide opportunities that directly address the pain points! There are some solutions that will work across the board for all personas and some that are personalized for specific personas, so always note whether opportunities are universal or not.

It doesn’t stop here; as you come up with solutions, it is imperative that you test them (barring the opportunities that are of immediate attention—i.e., bugs, typos and blatant errors) to ensure the remedies are truly ameliorating the issues, not exacerbating them.

Combating the pricing issues noted in the previous step for Jen, an opportunity identified here, that the brand moved forward with, is merchandising around the concept of being the best price guaranteed. This effort proved successful for the brand, as Jen, the persona, saw a 22% lift in conversion directly attributed to the messaging.

You now have successfully completed a persona & user journey—congratulations! Make sure that you have a set cadence on how often you conduct these journeys for these personas. This world of user journeys is never stagnant, but everchanging. Whether it is grasps the slight deviations in behavior exhibited by a persona like Jen or identifying an entirely new persona, journey mapping is crucial for business longevity and staying ahead of the competition.

Tools Overview

UXPressia, Respondent, eSurvey, Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics & Content Square

Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics 


How we use it for User Journey Mapping: As part of our methodology, we use data to help us analyze the online behavior of our customers. We can use analytic platforms such as Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics to provide data points on who users are, what channel they are coming from, their path on site and highlight the drop offs along the way.



How we use it for User Journey Mapping: Contentsquare is a digital experience insights platform that helps us to quickly understand our users actions on site and empowers marketers to make data-drive decisions to optimize the user journey. There top features include: customer journey analysis, zone-based heatmaps, session replay.



How we use it for User Journey Mapping: As part of the persona and user journey analysis, the best data resides in our customers. We can use tools such as Respondent and eSurveys Pro in launching surveys and questionnaires to evaluate our users behavior, needs and pain points.



How we use it for User Journey Mapping: After we have created the personas and analyzed the user journey we use UXPressia to help us visualize the customer journey. It is a very user friendly tool and we are able to integrate with other data sources.