User Journeys vs. User Flow: Understanding The Pro’s and Con’s of Product Tools


In the process of product development, the two terms, user flow and user journey, are oftentimes mentioned. Although they sound alike, both of these terms refer to two different types of tools that were created to improve the user experience regarding a particular product. Before we get to the differences between user journey and user tool, let us first look into what user story mapping is all about.

Story Mapping Explained

Story mapping is a technique for product management that aims to make a visual map of the consumers’ story. Story mapping gives companies insights about a product by stepping into the shoes of the user. They take the consumer’s perspective in evaluating a product and take into consideration how the user might interact with a product and how it will fulfill the user’s objective. Story mapping is important for developing an understanding of the useful features of a product. Through the process of user story mapping, companies are able to develop a satisfying and fully functioning product.

Following are the essential elements for creating a story map –

  • Theme: This describes the overall activities of the user. They represent the individual steps in the user journey.
  • Backbone: The individual steps in the theme together form the backbone of the story map.
  • Stories: The focus of this element is on the functionality behind the user’s activities.
  • User personas: These represent the consumers or users. The personas are created by data collection methods like consumer interviews.

Now we will look into the two key parts of user story mapping – User Flows and User Journey. Both these terms essentially describe the story of the product by taking the point of view of the user. These techniques are very useful for improving the experience of a product.

User Flows: Purpose and Benefits

User Flows are the simpler of the two concepts. The User Flow design consists of a set of steps taken by users while experiencing a product. It is depicted in the form of flowcharts. The User Flow does not depict how the users “should feel” about a product. Rather, it explains the user interface in the real sense. User Flows can be complex and simple. This depends on the functionality of the product and the number of things you want the consumers to be doing with the product.

User Flow is an important product tool for segmenting the user experience. By designing a User Flow for your product, you will be able to define concrete actions that can be implemented in designing the product. In a User Flow design, each of the steps is named and described based on the task it is accomplishing. User flow is a crucial tool in product development, as it is used for the translation of the design into the product’s physical features.

Now, we come to the benefits of User Flows. We will look into the way in which the User Flow benefits the design process of a product. User Flows help the company in understanding how the consumers navigate the product since it is essentially a visual representation of the product’s features. The developers and designers will be able to see what the consumers will be able to experience at each step. Companies will be able to spot any missing information and remove any illogical steps and other features that make the product confusing for the user.

User Journey: Purpose and Benefits

User Journey is a much more complex tool for product development. While the User Flow represents the physical journey of the user while experiencing a product, the User Journey represents the motivations, pain points, and emotions of the consumer. The User Journey map gives a visualization of the consumer journey and explains the experience of the consumer step by step. User journey can give an idea about the entirety of the consumer’s relationship with a company. It can be used by product development teams to develop products by taking a more user-centric approach.

In User Journey, the following stages of interaction are taken into account –

  • Awareness: When the user realizes they need a product to complete some objective.
  • Search: When the user starts looking for a product to solve the problem.
  • Buying: When the user purchases the product.
  • Use: When the consumer starts using the product.
  • Support: When the user gets help from the company while encountering some problems with the product.
  • Review: When the user submits the feedback for the product.

User Journey is a form of story mapping, and it can be useful to companies because of the following reasons –

  • By seeing the product from the consumer’s perspective, the companies will be able to identify user pain points.
  • The companies can uncover strategies for going above and beyond for delivering the best to your consumer.
  • The product development teams in a company will be able to build customer-focused products.


User Journeys are useful for developing an outline of the actions of the user and their interaction with a product. User Flows, on the other hand, can be used to make those actions a reality. Both User Journey and User Flows are important for understanding the path of the user. By using these tools, companies will be able to make targeted improvements in their products.