The basics of a user journey and why it is important

By Clairine Runtung

Jason Hobbs, an author at online journal for user designer community Boxes and Arrows, says:

“… Answering customer needs is the end point of our journeys through the structure and the starting point of our thinking about the journey itself.”

In today’s digitalised era, consumers are facing different choices of online products and services on a daily basis. This makes it a point that the way consumers make decisions through a website or an application is constantly changing – it comes down to as simple as this: A good user experience design will make visitors stay on your site, whereas a bad one will make them go to someone else’s, likely your competitor’s. You may have a strong product that has been designed to fulfill potential customers’ specific needs, but would they convert into engaging and paying customers by the end of the day?

This is where a user journey adds value. When it is done properly and with thorough research and comprehension, a user journey can be an effective tool to achieve a higher consumer conversion rate.

So, what is a user journey? Essentially, it is a conceptualised map to think through and plan out the different paths that a user could take, while reflecting the thoughts, considerations, and emotions that your user would experience. A simple user journey can be sketched out on a whiteboard or compilation of Post-It notes, while a more complex version can be created through different software tools such as Microsoft Office products.

Without getting into too much detail, below are three imperative basic concepts you need to understand before “embarking” on your journey map:

  • Personas

Simply put, a persona is a representation of a particular audience segment for a website/application you are designing. It should capture a person’s motivations, frustrations and the “essence” of who they are. Personas should give you a nice start in understanding about WHO you are designing for. Think of a persona as a real life person whose life will be made easier when he/she is using your website/application. Ideally, a persona should contain at least a person’s goals on your website/application, a person’s motivations for using it, a person’s current pain points, among other things you should know about your user.

  •  Wireframe

A wireframe is a visual representation of a user interface; if your website was a house, a wireframe would be the floor plan of your website, a vessel for which design and content can flow into. When creating a wireframe, it is better to work with a UX Designer for all the technical and functional necessities to finish up a mock-up and explore further ideas.

  • User story

A user story is a group of short sentences that elaborate a need or piece of certain functionality user. It sums up what the requirement or goal is and the reason for it. This is necessary for you to view a function in a user-centric way. A user story should help to create a simplified description of a requirement, and describes the type of user, what the user wants and why. For example, “As a user I want to be able to <functionality/goal> so that <motivation/reason>”

Why can a user journey be beneficial?

  • Understand user behaviour

User journey is a helpful tool to take you through the user’s way of thinking while using your web/product/service. It can be a good guide for you to work out what users expect from your product.

  • Portrait an end-to-end vision for the project

User journey can assist you in not only optimising the current product, but also visualising the future state of what your product design could be. What makes a user journey much more powerful than simply delivering personas and scenarios is its ability to highlight the flow of the user experience.

  • Focus

A user journey can act as a reference tool for you and your team to stay focus on what has initially been brainstormed. Alternatively, if along the way you are pivoting, a user journey can provide a good basic to start off with. By comparing and contrasting the “new” user journey with the one produced before, you and your team can remain focussed on any transformational change in the design and development efforts necessary to produce an optimal user experience.

All in all, building a user journey can be fun. What you and your team need to do is to sit down and brainstorm content and functionality that will most effectively answer the user’s needs and ensure his/her experience is enjoyable. As an entrepreneur, it is imperative that you know what you are building. By understanding the “flow” of the various tasks and functions the user will want to undertake, you can think ahead of features that will enhance a positive user journey.


This article, “The basics of user journey and why it is important” first appeared on The Quad at and e27.

Convergence Ventures is an early stage technology venture fund focused on investing in Indonesia. Our partners are seasoned entrepreneurs with extensive operating experience in Internet businesses.

Clairine Runting is a Senior Investment Analyst at Convergence Ventures.

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