Design thinking

Recipes for Great Design part 6

Tara Mullaney

Emotional Journey Mapping

People have emotional responses to things they care about, and these emotions can be identified, mapped, measured and understood…and they can provide us with insights that help us better understand a client’s current offerings or identify new opportunities for the future.

This latest article in the Recipes for Great Design series introduces the second phase of our design process, which we call Identify Opportunities, and focuses on Emotional Journey Mapping— a method we often employ to help synthesize the findings gained in the first phase, Investigate Contexts. (More about it in Recipes for Great Design, part two)

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How We Identify Opportunities


When we identify opportunities for design, initially we must bring together all the rich data we collected during the Investigate Contexts phase through co-creation interviews, guerrilla research, ergonomic assessment, benchmarking and other methods.

Next, we analyze the data to identify the key customer needs and insights from our research. The core of our analytical activities is pattern-finding. We do this by structuring the information we’ve collected so the themes, commonalities, repetitions, and extremes across the data set become apparent. Emotional journey mapping is one of the methods we frequently employ to analyze and synthesize data, especially when we’re working on customer experience projects.

Once we’ve finished analysis we synthesize the knowledge into opportunity areas for the client, drawing not only on customer insights but also on our global knowledge of markets and industries, and political, economic, social, technological and demographic trends.

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An emotion is more than a feeling, it’s a mental and physiological state associated with a wide variety of sensations, thoughts and behaviors. Emotions impact how people experience a brand.

Tara Mullaney, Veryday Senior Design Researcher & Designer

Through emotional journey mapping, we go beyond charting the highs and lows of an experience to uncover the concerns and desires behind the emotions. Capturing, measuring and identifying what triggers emotions — and where emotional conflict lies – provides vital clues on how to leverage the high points and resolve the conflicts.


Emotional journey mapping is a visualization of the process a customer goes through from start to finish in order to accomplish a goal, including their emotional experience. It allows us to trace the emotional fluctuations over time and gives the client guidance on where mismatches lie between customer needs and the nature of their product or service. Maps can be used to evaluate present offerings and identify opportunities for innovation.

Goals and Benefits of Emotional Journey Mapping

• People like to say they make decisions rationally, but really emotions rule the process. If emotions play a significant role in a purchasing decision, we must understand and measure them.
• Emotions are the gateway to what’s really important to people — it’s less about identifying emotions and more about finding where they lead.
• What attracts a customer in the first place may not lead to a long-term commitment.
• Understanding the entire emotional journey of an experience is key to designing for loyalty.

Core Emotional Journey Mapping Activities

• Through co-constructive interviews with participants, emotions that occur before, during and after a particular user interaction are investigated.
• Each participants’ emotions and concerns are captured, aggregated and analyzed together, revealing patterns and common themes over time.
• By understanding highs and lows of the customer experience, mismatches between customer needs and the nature of a product and/or service – referred to as “conflicting concerns” – can be identified.

Typical Emotional Journey Mapping Deliverables

• Net promoter score (NPS) scoring
• A deep, detailed report of the customer experience and how it may be improved
• The emotional journey map itself
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Emotional journey maps are extremely useful for clarifying the experience and needs of customers, and we’ve found them to be a valuable communication tool for sharing research findings with our clients. Their visual nature makes it easy to highlight highs and lows of the customer experience, and they often become key evidence for shifting a company’s perspective from inside-out to outside-in.


Customer experience is an increasingly important differentiator for companies seeking to stand out from the competition. While a majority of organizations believe they deliver outstanding value and superior customer experience, often a very small portion of their customers agree. Emotional journey maps serve as a valuable source of insight into the customer experience and help designers identify opportunity areas for innovation.

Stay tuned for our next Recipe!