What’s the Difference Between a User Journey Map and User Flow?

Journey Map

There are many different tools to make a product that is truly in demand by users while being convenient, simple, and intuitive. The most important of which is the user journey map and the user scenario (user flow). Let’s figure out how professional user experience design agencies work with them, what their features are, and when it is better to use one solution over another.

A User Journey Map is the road a customer takes when they get to know a product. It is important for understanding how people interact with a resource and what emotions they get out of it. A well-thought-out User Journey Map gives the product owner the following benefits:

  • Displays a real picture of the customer’s journey through the product
  • Helps establish a productive collaboration of design teams, technical support, and marketing
  • Optimizes their interaction, allowing you to quickly find points of interference in the funnel sales
  • Allows you to find points of rollback of clients and eliminate them
  • Makes it possible to improve the design by adapting it as much as possible to fit the user’s needs.

The User Journey Map identifies and eliminates customer pain points, helps get positive emotions from interacting with the product, as well as quickly solves the problem. When creating a User Journey Map, professional designers use the following techniques:

  1. Drawing images of potential customers – For example, if the training course is calculated for people from 18 to 60 years old, then the behavioral models of all users are taken into account, from young people to older people.
  2. Creating custom stages – A person goes through several stages when using a product. For example, say a husband wants to buy earrings as a gift for his wife. The custom stages would be: product search => earring selection => basket => selection of payment method => placing an order.
  3. Finding points of contact between a person and a business – There may be several of them: registering an account, subscribing to a newsletter or service, purchasing a product, etc.
  4. Usability testing – Users are tested to understand their impressions of the resource, to find out what emotions they experienced while traveling on it, what expectations were placed on the product, and what obstacles they encountered on the way to solving the problem.
  5. Identification and eliminating interference – To find them, you need to look at the product through the eyes of potential customers; try to see all the problems with which they will collide along the journey.

The User Journey Map is a tool that describes a user rather than a product, and User Paths are usually represented in the form of a spreadsheet.

User Flow

User Flow is a description of customer stories that interact with a product. A custom script is a tool that provides a visual representation of how it elects to solve their problem. The script helps to analyze the experience of people. This makes it possible to design a site or application so that they maximally correspond to the prevailing ideas of customers about how quickly, efficiently, and effectively it resolves your issue.

User Flow is customer stories. They are divided into the following types:

  • Custom (story, diagram, drawing, video, photographs) helping describes the experience of different people when interacting with the resource.
  • Conceptual – Created by combining custom ones of the same type of stories.
  • Specific – For each character of the target audience, his path is prescribed to work with the product.
  • Usage scenarios – The customer experience is described step by step.

The first two scenarios are needed to understand the client’s motives as it is crucial both for experienced designers and just interested in the topic. The last two types of stories are used to create or improve information architecture and usability testing.

What’s the difference?

A User Journey Map makes it possible to identify obstacles, customer rollback points, moments of joy, and pleasure from interacting with the product. User Flow is an algorithm of actions that the user must take to achieve their goal.

How to apply

If the product has not yet been created, then it is better to start work by creating a User Journey Map so that you can identify the basic needs of the target audience and understand their feelings, aspirations, and wishes. When it becomes clear which path the client will take to decide the task, you can create User Flow. The script will help determine how to improve the product and make interaction with them more effective.

If you already have a product and a solution ready, you can start with User Flow. Based on this, a map of the user’s path can be built. The User Journey Map helps to see problematic places and remove them, as well as identify and enhance the pleasant moments in contact with the product.

Also, User Flow is effective when communicating with a client since it is built on using visual materials.

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