Creative Brainstorming Techniques: Customer Journey and Story Mapping

You might have already read our previous articles about the contextual inquiry models. These models help you to discover user behaviors and their pain points. As rich as the data collected from contextual inquiry can be, your team should spend some time together to define which gap to tap into and what solutions to offer. Group discussions can take place in many forms but with one main purpose- idea generation. We will introduce two creative brainstorming techniques which enhance the process of idea generation, customer journey and story mapping.


Whether you have a single-vendor or a multi store ecommerce platform with headless commerce capabilities , it is important to have a customer journey map. Customer journey is a diagram which shows the process of a customer engaging in a service. Customer journey can shed light on product strategies (if it’s based on results of prudent research and reliable data). The diagram is composed by three levels: Action, Thinking, Feeling, and includes customer information of,

User persona – is an imaginary person that represents a group of your target users. List out his or her gender, occupation, age, or other relevant attributes. Take random names instead names from whom you know to avoid personal affection.

Timeline – records the happening from the start to the end of engagement.

Channel – refers to a part of user behavior in a customer journey. Let’s say you are buying a flight ticket, price comparison can be one of the channels along with other channels like ticket booking, payment, and others. There are two patterns of the channel, the cycled pattern and the linear pattern. An example being a cycled-patterned channel is comparing airfare. We repeatedly search and compare the prices until we get a satisfying result. Linear channel it’s like buying tickets from the train station. It’s a one-off behavior in a single task.

Service touchpoint is a specific point in a channel through which users can get access to the services. A touchpoint can be a piece of Facebook ads, Word-of-Mouth from a friend, or shop display. A good touchpoint triggers positive engagement and creates positive brand awareness, vice and versa.

User’s emotion – changes over time. Emotion toward a touchpoint or an event can be a mixture of love and hate. Back to the airfare example, you can be excited about the price offered by a new budget airline company, but at the same time worry about the quality of the flight.

Source: Neil Davey/


Story mapping is another way to represent the process of user engagement. The advantage of story mapping is that we can prioritize the development tasks as we pull the ideas together. Traditionally, we use post-it to create a story map, but now a lot of software can make story mapping much more environmental friendly.

A story map consists of four major parts:

User personaindicates the type of users in this story.

User activities – is the goal level of the user engagement. Use short phrases to describe each activity. For example, user’s activities in a reader app can be managing files, reading e-books, and signing document. Put these activities in the first row in the upper part of a map.

User taskis the task required in a user activity. In the case of “Manage document” in a reader app, user tasks include setting up new folders, moving the file to a folder, or renaming the document. Try to use a narrative tone to explain the flow precisely.

Bodyis the supplementary details to the user tasks, these details are listed in the lower part of the map. Try to provide as many details as you can, because these can be the potential demands from your users.

Let’s dig deeper into the reader app example, how does a user manage files? The user might start with finding the documents, renaming the documents, setting up new folders, or dragging the files to the existing folders. The questions naturally rise when web developers attempt to understand how they could make experiences of the users better. For instance, developers might wonder if it is necessary to optimize the document search process to enhance users’ ability to locate the file faster. Or does different users sort their documents differently? Instead of using the folder system, will tags be a more efficient way to organize documents?

Prioritize the level of importance of each task- check the order of the tasks and ask the team what tasks are more important for the users in order to reach their goals. These drills enable you to estimate and plan your product development.

Here is a sample of story mapping.

Source: Lean Transformation/

Making a customer journey or a story map is a time-consuming task, because more doubts and questions pop up during the process of brainstorming. Nevertheless, these two techniques help us stay focused on the problems from the user perspective. In the next post from the series, we will be facing the next exciting challenge – to deliver user experiences. Stay tuned for our next post.

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Contextual Inquiry | Identify the Potential Obstacles

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Feature image: Unsplash / Pixabay