"It's the activity, not the artifact."

- Adaptive Path

Experience or Journey mapping is a structured and systematic approach to 1) uncover behavioral and emotional patterns and 2) find “pain points” and barriers to situations/problems/decision making and more, 3) identify opportunity spaces for organizations and companies to create solutions for their constituents and customers.

The maps/artifacts that are produced from these processes can be very impressive, BUT the value is in the process and not the final artifact. As the people at Adaptive Path say: “The process of experience mapping is just as important as the actual artifact…”

At Context, we find the experience and journey mapping process a highly effective way to capture focused data throughout the discovery and solution phases. The categories that make up the mapping process help steer observations to ensure a more efficient ethnographic, analysis and solution phase.

Most mapping exercises have three basic areas of observation: Do (mostly behavioral), Think (mostly decisions and cultural), Feel (mostly emotional).

Mapping exercises also have a category for Purpose – the overall purpose behind the experience or journey.

At Context, we add Cultural to the Purpose category. We often find that Do, Think, and Feel are tied to cultural drivers – norms, values, learned processes, habitual behaviors.


Lastly, all maps ladder up to Opportunity areas – which are largely manifest in the later stages of a mapping process.

Within each mapping process – within each category, we look for specific frames, which include the following: touchpoints (interactions with the organization or company in questions), pain-points, and “Use” (what people are using – often special focus on technology).

In addition, we are very interested in linear vs non linear moments. For example, are we investigating a process that flows across a nice linear path or has many non-linear moments? We need to identify these flows in order to know what kind of stimulus would best fit and motivate behavior.

All mapping process are highly interactive with clients and collaborative. In addition, the processes are decidedly visual. For these reasons, you often find these techniques rest squarely in the Design Think world.