How to Map Out True User Journeys – From Never Heard of You to Super Fan

Start to map out your user journey high level before going into any detail

If you have settled on your idea, it’s time to think about how to map out true user journeys for it. But just to be clear, we will be focusing on the true user journeys: that is turning someone who’s never heard of you into an ambassador for your brand!

Startups are famously (or perhaps infamously) 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. It’s true, but by sticking with this a strategic plan, you can at least be executing while you’re perspiring!

Trial and error can be useful, but it is more often than not a business killer. As you learn to be an entrepreneur, you need to minimise your missteps and take advantage of the lessons and shortcuts presented in this post.

In order to build out your idea, we need to think about how to map out true User Journeys — a.k.a. how users will actually interact with your app!

Let’s dig in.


Mind Map Out True User Journeys

First up, let’s use a mind map to lay some groundwork for our User Journeys.

Create a mind map by writing 2-4 key facets of your app/solution. From each facet, create spokes of related sections. I usually start by writing the key functionality of my idea (e.g. AirBnB’s booking function) and everything else stems from there. Then, add all the different sections that you feel would be important to navigate to from the Home screen (payment information, login page, etc.). You can see a complete example of this in the User flow video found in the next section. 


Steps in mapping out your user journeys

When thinking about User Journeys, It’s tempting to only think about the UX inside the app. But, you need to be thinking wider. Take this time to think about how users will hear about your app and how you will engage with them once they’ve left (and how you will re-engage them!). So in your mind map, try extending another layer outside of the internal functionality and discuss how those key facets can be explained/used to draw in customers (see below for more details). This lays the groundwork for the customer acquisition strategies we will cover later on.

Here are some of the user journeys that are important to build (keep in mind some of these depend on what your app will do):

  1. User onboarding: how does a User go from initially entering the app to creating an account in the best manner possible?
  2. Buyer journey: if you have an E-commerce component, how does a User select what to purchase and complete that purchase through the cart, address, payment and confirmation screen?
  3. Adding to Favorites: how does a User find something they like in your app, add it to Favorites and then go to their Favorites section to review things?
  4. Posting an item: how does a User create a post, add images, and text and select who to share it with?


On each of those occasions, try to map it out from the start: Splash screen > Log in > Home > Next screen > etc. Personally, I like to draw it out to visualize how people will move around.

Step by step guide for how to map out true user journeys

For our purposes, I wouldn’t go overboard. Start with mapping out 2-4 of the most important user journeys and go from there. It’s also helpful to think of user journeys in three stages: before, during, and after the use of your app.


Going beyond – mapping user’s steps before they get to your product

How your Users will hear about you and start interacting with you. 

  • Will users discover you via paid search (Adwords) when they are looking for a specific solution? In that case, they will be further down the “funnel” and closer to making a decision to download / trial / buy a new solution. A simple funnel could be: Adwords campaign leading to a landing page explaining more about your solution -> call-to-action on that page to download your app (go to app store) / sign up to receive a helpful offer (capture email address) / trial the system (basic account creation). This usually requires a bit of email sequencing to maximise conversion from browsers to Users.

  • If users find out about you from paid social strategies (e.g. Facebook adverts), they will likely need more nurturing to get to know your brand and trust you before they start using your solution. This will likely require an element of email sequencing to maximise conversions from browsers to Users as well.

  • Other channels such as recommendation, word of mouth, guest blogging, direct marketing channels, etc. are other ways to raise profile and make people aware of your solution.


The key concept is that users need different levels of education and information based on how they heard about you and how long they’ve known you. So if they are well-versed in your business/solution/brand then you can minimise the “onboarding” process and be more direct. If you’re not as well known to them then you will need to educate them to get better conversion rates.


Mapping out user journeys through your app/ website

Organic Search Visitor:

  • Searches for reviews of iPhone
  • Enters Amazon’s mobile app. 
  • Uses search bar to find iPhone
  • Browses more iPhone reviews
  • Uses search bar to find Samsung Galaxy
  • Browses Galaxy reviews
  • Returns to original iPhone Amazon vendor
  • Buys iPhone


Direct Visitor: 

  • Push notification sent to User with limited time offer
  • Enters Amazon’s mobile app
  • Uses search bar to find iPhone
  • Buys iPhone



User onboarding is THE key user journey for an app and website. I mean, it’s how people actually use your product and actually pay you. You’ve spent all that time and money getting them to find out about you, so the last thing you want to do is make the registration user experience difficult.

Example of a terrible User Onboarding:

Example of a great User Onboarding:

These websites contain various examples that are worth reviewing and learning from.



Take time to think through the key pieces of functionality a user will need to access from the home page. These are typically settings, search, home, etc.. 

AFTER – Think through how someone becomes a return user and then ultimately an ambassador for your app. 

Engaging Users through the app is a challenge in itself, but getting them to come back to your app is the biggest and most important hurdle to conquer in order to obtain sustainable growth.

  • Building return loops in the app / solution that encourages the user to come back regularly (e.g. a raffle app that enters you in a drawing but the winners are announced in 24hrs, and you can only find out if you’ve won by going into the app again).

  • Building strategic local notification in the apps. These are automated notifications that fire based on specific scenarios, such as not using an app for X days, entering a specific geographic area, etc.

  • Email sequencing that sends emails to Users to remind them of the service and most importantly, add value. You can either build a series of educational emails or opt for more direct reminders, but keep them relevant above all else!

Take a look through the video walkthrough and template in the next few sections, and then work on building 2-4 of your most important journeys! 

If you’re serious about moving your idea forward but are struggling due to time or worried you do not have the experience, contact Patrice at to discuss coaching and “done for you” service to fast-track your startup idea.

Example of how to map out true user journeys

Here are the tools and resources mentioned in this post: 

Example of terrible user Onboarding:

Example of great user Onboarding:

Example app that captures data from driving licenses (Uber uses similar technology to save time inputting card details as well).

Additional Reading:………

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