Experience mapping


In the previous exercise (Human Activity Pairs) we focused on verbs & nouns selection. Experience mapping is the next step in our process to humanize our software design. Experience Maps are chains of verbs and nouns resulting in a visual representation of a human activity/experience. They can be used to visualize your currents features, assess your current offerings on human cencricity, especially if we use Emotion Mapping on top of your experience maps.

Because of abstraction in todays design systems it’s quite hard to brainstorm and/or discuss potential ideas and direction without resorting to some sort of design iteration. We tend to focus on product and/or features, not on how your effort is perceived from a human perspective. 

In this design challenge we will investigate if experience maps can help solve the abstract nature of our current design systems and replace them with maps that communicates real value for the user.


The problem with today’s design systems is that they are abstract and divergent. With divergent I mean that we pour our energy and money in a lot of different channels (website, apps, pos) without a clear connection between all of them. We tend to bond things together with look and feel and brand. We haven’t figured out we connect our touchpoint with an interactive narrative.

Our current design systems force us to think in features and pushes us into some sort of waterfall design method. User stories for example make concepts abstract and lack the potential to make a concept clear for a team/stakeholder.  

Often people need to part and exit the room to come up with sub-solutions to problems without the use of collective genius.  How might we break down complex systems in such a way that we don’t have to resort to technical drawings, wire-framing or mock-ups? How might we connect all our touch points in a cohesive experience? How might we come up with a visualization system that urges people to collaborate, perhaps even with lead-consumers? How do we force ourselves to communicate our concepts from the user perspective? How can we collaborate in real-time with the people in the room or during remote sessions, while working with preselected words? These are all real life design problems with our current design systems.

There is no design language for near real-time conceptualisation and co-creation.

We can resort to mock-ups and prototypes, but they take up relatively much time to produce. Collective Genius (Using the brainpower of diverse set of people with different perspectives) is also minimal as they don’t enable input from all team members without abstracting into briefings, user stories or other pre-design artefacts.

If we want to humanize and optimize our software design we need to aim for near real-time ideation and conceptualisation. We need to be able to feel the intended experience, the flow and test our ideas with our consumers with ease. If we want to humanize our software design we need a new system to visualize our ambitions, while using our pre-selected, vetted and tailored set of verbs and nouns.


This is where experience maps come in. We use verbs, nouns and emotion-labels to visualize our current ideas, while assessing them on human centricity. Experience maps are easy to construct, maintain, and communicate. By adding in emotion labels we can hone in on parts of a map to brainstorm how to overcome certain emotions/obstacles.  Experience maps enable us to communicate value with ease.


Human Activity Pairs & Experience map helps us to break down your applications into visual human centered representations. They are easy to discuss and force you to come up with human centered solutions instead of features. Experience maps fuse the functional and emotional part of software design into one and force ourselves to think from the human perspective. Other design systems result in functional features without this human centricity check.

The result is a near real-time design system which support co-creation, collective genius and can be used by people in the room or with remote teams. 

A concept and experience language which fuses ideation and definition phase into one. Adding emotion labels on top of your experience maps will result in a process which makes your experiences fluid, frictionless & mesmerising. The ability to select your words and define your experiences will set you apart from the competition.


Communicating creativity and concepts has always been hard without resorting to mock-ups, wireframes or prototypes. Design research with human activity pairs + experience maps + emotion-labels will teach us if they will help in humanizing our software, which will result in more traction and success. They enable co-creation, which brings a diverse set of people in the room co-creating solutions to our sometimes complex problems. 

What are your learnings using experience maps? Do you have insights to share? Feel free to e-mail me at nielskijf.com/contact

Remember: “If we really want to humanize software design and increase traction we need to humanize our design systems first. Word of mouth will do the rest.”


In the following pages (Check the download) I brought in the human activities as found in the Cardano Daedalus 1.0 Wallet. On the next pages I made a first iteration of an experience map, the creation a new wallet.

Because of this e-book I had to chop the Experience map up in pieces, normally I would put this in a one pager. Have a look and let me know what you think in the contact page.

Download “Stellar UX - Experience Mapping” Stellar-UX-Experience-Mapping-Iteration-1.1.pdf – Downloaded 17 times – 717 KB

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