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12 tips and hacks for advanced journey maps


Creating a journey map is a pretty straightforward task, however, there are some tips and tricks that make your journey map stick out from all others. Here comes an overview of some hidden features of Smaply that will make your journey maps more complete, easy to grasp, and nice to present.


1. Use images to create empathy and illustrate processes

2. Use a text lane to indicate emotions

3. Duplicate personas and maps to use them as templates

4. Hide/show lanes to customize exports

5. Use the touchpoint details to walk people through the journey, step by step

6. Use the backstage lane together with the separator to visualize an illustration similar to a service blueprint

7. Use emojis to visualize emotions, ratings, categories, ...

8. Switch the visualization of the emotional journey

9. Compare the experience of two personas on one emotional journey lane

10. Link to your project management tool

11. Color-code and tag your projects

12. Visualize stakeholders in your journey map through backstage/activities lane


1. Use images to create empathy and illustrate processes


You can use the storyboard lane not only to upload your own images of the scenery but also to add visualizations for processes. For example, you can use the icons and pictograms you can access through Smaply’s noun project integration.



2. Use a text lane to indicate emotions


Besides the emotional journey lane you can use a text lane to visualize how your customer feels in a specific moment: explicitly write down the feelings and use color codes to show how positive or negative these feelings are. 



Another way of indicating emotions is by adding user quotes from your research.



3. Duplicate personas and maps to use them as templates


If you decide on a specific structure which you want to use for multiple personas you can simply keep one as a template and duplicate it.




4. Hide/show lanes to customize exports


Hiding lanes does not only help you keep the overview on large journey maps. Hidden lanes are not shown on the export, which helps you to tailor journey maps to your audience or purpose. If you hide a lane, only a grey bar with the title is shown on the editor, but not the lane itself. 




5. Use the touchpoint details to walk people through the journey, step by step


If you click on the step title and then on touchpoint details, a sidebar with all details of this touchpoint will appear. This little presentation mode can be useful for you to walk others through the journey map and help them keep focus.




6. Use the backstage lane together with the separator to visualize an illustration similar to a service blueprint


Combining the backstage lane and the separator lane helps you to visualize processes that happen in the background, very similar to a service blueprint: what’s the physical evidence, what happens on the line of interaction, on the line of visibility, what are internal interactions. The only component that differentiates these two is the arrows between the different activities.


Check out an example map



7. Use emojis to visualize emotions, ratings, categories, ...


Before trying this out, please note that this tip comes with a limitation: the way how emojis are illustrated depends on your operating system, therefore they might look different on your exports and they might look different on other people’s devices. Please be aware of that especially when you want to present them or collaborate with others!


In general, you can pick emojis, e.g. from getemoji.com, and use them in several places of Smaply: on the text fields of the persona editor and journey map editor, as well as on the titles of your journey maps’ lanes.


Emojis can help you to visualize

  • emotions

  • processes

  • ratings

  • categorizations

  • traffic light systems


By the way, emojis are also illustrated on the live data lane if they inserted on the Google Sheet. 




8. Switch the visualization of the emotional journey


To make your journey map even more visual you can switch from squares to emojis – just click on the square and change the settings.




9. Compare the experience of two personas on one emotional journey lane


The differences of the experience again show how important it is to take time and resources to create research-based personas. Here you can see how the same experience triggered completely different emotions that can make or break a customer journey. Comparing the experiences gives you great insights on how to improve your product for your customer. Even more when you combine the emotional journey with the dramatic arc.



By the way, if you have two personas with very similar journeys you can simply duplicate one journey and reuse the journey on the same map.



10. Link to your project management tool


You can feed data in real-time into your journey maps by using Zapier but also simply add links to your project management tool. For example, if you work with Jira or Trello, simply copy the link to a specific epic or task and add it to the text lane. This way you can keep track of the projects that are connected to a specific project.



11. Color-code and tag your projects


To make the overview on your dashboard easier, you can color-code or tag your projects. Just define a code that works for you, if you have for example the same persona in multiple journey maps you can use the same color or tag for each project that contains this specific persona.



By the way, keep in mind that you can use other colors than the predefined ones from the Smaply color palette by picking your preferred colors with the RGB picker.



12. Visualize stakeholders in your journey map through backstage/activities lane


Your stakeholders aren’t always visible in a journey, but often play a crucial role in it. Make it easier to keep this in mind by illustrating them as channels or in the backstage lane. These lanes visualize the people, organizations, devices, or channels that are needed to make the process work. They aren’t necessarily humans, they can also be tools, networks, or whatever makes your process work smoothly.



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