How to create a journey map

Learn all about how to create a professional and useful journey map. Read all about the structure of journey maps, the elements you use when building them, and how to assemble each part. You will also get some best-practice tips, based on more than 20 years of journey mapping experience.

  1. Pick a journey
  2. Decide who’s journey you are mapping
  3. Decide the levels of details in your journey map
  4. Decide if you are going to map the AS-IS or TO-BE
  5. Create lanes and sub-lanes
  6. The Cards
  7. The Curves
  8. Sub-lanes and sub-cards
  9. Placing content, data and insights on the journey map

1. Pick a journey

Decide on whether you want to map an “end-to-end customer journey” or to focus on a more detailed part of a certain journey. One organization can have several different customer journeys, and in Custellence you can create a whole eco-system of connected customer journeys, which means you can start anywhere you like, and build from there.

Tip! Having trouble choosing what customer journey to start mapping? Here are some guidelines:

  • Start with an area where customer experience has an effect on important KPI:s
  • Begin where a result that reach the customer can be achieved, and effects on internal KPI:s
  • Start within an area where you have the mandate to influence
  • Start small scoped, instead of starting with the most important, the most critical or the most comprehensive area
  • Simply start anywhere, and show results and quick-wins, to build acceptance for the method and mindset

2. Decide who’s journey you are mapping

Decide for whom you are doing the map. Is it an accumulated map for several user groups? Or is it a map for a single user group? Also, consider if you want to make one map per user group or instead add lanes or sections in the map for certain groups? If you want to use the maps you are creating not only as a documentation but as a base for development and change, it´s more efficient to include all your user groups in one map. This way you will avoid the fuzz of having to deal with multiple maps.

However you categorize your users, make sure that you consider not only their group characteristics and attitudes, but also the progress that the customer is trying to make in a given circumstance, i e what the customer need to accomplish. Some organizations use Personas to categorize their users, but since there are many misconceptions about what a persona consists of, as well as many pitfalls in using them, we suggest that you instead use the framework “Jobs-to- be-done” (read more on this further down) or behavioural groups when defining your users.

Tip! Read more on Personas, and the alternative way of describing and understanding your user groups by using the framework “Jobs-to-be done”:

3. Decide the levels of details in your journey map

It’s important to decide the level of details in your journey map. One reason for this is that you don’t need to dig deep into areas that work fine today. And on the other hand, you need to be able to really deep dive were development have to be prioritized.

Here is a good starting point on levels, that suits most organizations. It is based on our 20 years of experience in journey mapping. Basically it consists of 4 levels.

Level 1 is the highest level describing if the customer is “before”, “during” or “after” the service or experience.

Level 2 is describing the activities or situations during each phase. For instance during the phase “before” you might have the activity “researching different alternatives” or “signing up”. There are usually 4-10 activities/situations per phase in a map.

Level 3 describes the activities in the above lane in more detailed steps, for instance: “sign up” may consist of the steps: “check if time fits my calendar”, “log in” or “call grandmother if she can take care of the kids at 2 pm next wednesday”

Level 4 in the map describes the steps in level 3 in further detail. For instance: “Log in” may consist of “Click on the mail invite”, “type in username and password”, “redirected”, “get new information”.


Tip! Make sure that Level 1 is be represented in all maps on the upper lane. Below Level 1 you will need a level 2 in most cases. And for prioritized areas, you will need a level 3. A level 4 is complete list of actions and steps made for detailed development. In Custellence you can choose to hide the detailed levels, which is great for when you need to present for management or for decision-making.

4. Decide if you are going to map the AS-IS or TO-BE

You should also decide on whether your customer journey map should visualise the AS-IS-state (i e the current state) or the TO-BE-state (the desired future scenario). However you decide, it might be good to know that in Custellence, you can have both the AS-IS and the TO-BE-scenatior in one map. (We’ll get to that below).

Tip! Create the AS-IS and then add the future states/scenarios in your map. This way you don’t have to toggle between any AS-IS and TO-BE maps during the development. Also, TO-BE maps tend to build too high expectations, which are hard to reach within normal team efforts and budgets.

5. Create lanes and sub-lanes

Start to build the map architecture. Start with the horisontal lanes. Make sure that the top lanes always contain customer phases and activities. The further down you go vertically, you may add touchpoints and the backstage (internal processes). A professional customer journey should always consist of: Customer phases, customer activities, customer needs, and the emotional curve. That is a basic setup that suits most organisations.


Tip! Check out our templates, if you don’t want to start from scratch! This short 1 minute video explains how you create lanse, cards, curves and sublanes.

6. The cards

Consider the cards as “headlines” in Custellence where you briefly describe the customers situations and activities connected to those situations. They go from left to right. And further down in the map, use the same principle when describing the internal processes and activities.


Tip! When writing on the cards, it is good to ask yourself questions like “what situation is the customer in right now? Or, “what activity does the customer do?” i. e. searching for information (activity), getting ill (situation)

7. The Curves

Curves are great for describing the emotional state of the customer at each activity or situation. Further down you can also use the curve lanes for visualizing other things such as internal costs/ savings/feasability for instance.


8. Sub-lanes and subcards

For the details, such as descriptions, quotes, pictures or other data, use sub-lanes and sub-cards. This way you will be able to show and hide details according to who you are presenting the map for.


Now you have a framework you can either print a canvas to run a workshop. Here is a guide on how to run a customer journey workshop. Or, If you want to save the time - use your Custellence map structure during the workshop.

9. Placing content, data and insights on the journey map

A common question here is how much “customer true” insights you need? We recommend that you to start with your assumptions, and then build from there. Don´t wait until you have enough insights. Just start mapping the assumptions that you have about what the customer goes through. By doing so you will not only get a good starting-point for further mapping, you will also help your colleagues to get into a customer mindset, which is of great value. Also, you probably already have a bunch of different research laying around that can be gathered. Once this is done, it will be clear what kind of insights you lack.

  • Customer phases: Start by creating cards that represents before, during and after in the top lane.
  • Customer journey: This is the next level below the Customer phases, and where you go into more detail. In this lane, describe all the activities that the customer goes through. For example, waiting for an answer, or receiving a letter.
  • Customer needs: Connected to each activity above, describe the customer’s need during this activity.
  • Emotional curve: Describe the customer’s emotional state connected to each activity. If the customer is happy the curve goes up, and vice versa.
  • Potential opportunities- After having mapped the Customer Journey, the needs and emotions, you will be able to map the potential opportunities. Where are the opportunities for change? Look for places where the emotional curve (no 4) is low. If solving or improving this customer need while also benefiting the business or solve a business need, you have a perfect opportunity to create profitable and customer centric change.
  • Ideas & Solutions: Its ideation time! In this lane you place all the ideas and solutions you can you come up with to solve the opportunities you discovered in the lane above (no 5). There are many ways to be creative, brainstorming is one of the most common ways.

Tip! Trying to figure out the starting point of a customer journey can sometimes be tricky. It is easier to instead start somewhere in the middle and then work your way back and forth from there as you map the journey.

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