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Journey Mapping

Using a Journey Map¹, citizens plot all of their interactions with a service or initiative and their emotional response throughout the experience. These insights can be used to improve service delivery.

Prior to implementing any Citizen Engagement Technique, please read our Before You Begin Checklist to set goals and expectations, identify stakeholders, and more.

How to Lead a Journey Mapping Session

1. Welcome citizens to the meeting and remind them of the meeting purpose, the challenge they are helping to address, and how their input will be used. 

2. Break participants into small groups of four to six.

3. Ask participants to individually brainstorm an exhaustive list of their touchpoints with the city service or initiative being discussed. Have participants write each touchpoint on a sticky note. Touchpoints may include receiving a promotional flyer, visits to a website, calls to a help line, or in-person trips to an office.

4. Instruct participants to share their touchpoints within their small groups and create additional sticky notes for any touchpoint that they also experienced but hadn’t originally recorded. 

5. Provide each participant with their own Journey Map. The design of the map should have a horizontal axis representing the time span of their experience (beginning to end) and a vertical axis representing their emotional response (negative to positive).

6. Ask participants to individually place their touchpoints on the Journey Map by sequence and by their emotional response.  

7. Instruct participants to share their Journey Maps with their small group and notice trends in their experiences. Encourage them to identify any shared positive or negative points and reflect on the reasons behind the emotional responses. 

8. Facilitate a conversation among the larger group by asking small groups to share their findings and insights.

9. At the end of the session, collect the Journey Maps and explain what will happen to the information citizens provided.

10. Thank citizens for their participation and remind them how they can stay up to date on the project’s development.

11. Capture the lessons from Journey Mapping and integrate them into the final design. 

12. Report what you’ve changed to citizens and explain how their input was used by the city.


¹ Adapted from:”design thinking bootleg.” d School at Stanford Bootleg Deck, pg 7. Accessed February 18, 2020. https://www.slideshare.net/colaborativismo/d-school-bootleg-deck-2018


In June 2016, a group of Orlando residents volunteered to help the city by contributing their insights and experiences. The group was led through a Journey Map exercise to create a visual representation of the city’s permitting process — specifically, what a citizen goes through and how they feel when they want to build a fence.

Participants discussed events that preceded their first interaction with the permitting office — things like having a dog run away and collecting him from the pound, researching fence options online, shopping for lumber and supplies, and finding a reliable, affordable contractor. Participants also outlined steps associated with visiting the permit office such as taking time off from work, having a hard time parking at city hall, and going through security. While these touchpoints fall outside the purview of the permitting office, they nonetheless informed many of their interactions and the public’s level of satisfaction with the experience. 

These findings were shared with managers from the Economic Development Department, which includes permitting services. The Journey Map was also rendered visually across several feet of paper by a graphic designer and then posted in the permitting office. Next to the Journey Map, city officials posted a comment form so employees could contribute suggestions to make the process and experience better. 

The Journey Map also brought the arduous citizen experience to Mayor Buddy Dyer’s attention. He personally suggested that fence permitting be included in the first Digital Services Academy, which teaches city staff how to create and test user-centered digital services by putting citizen needs first. During the process of providing easy access to clear and correct information, the city confronted a cumbersome 12-step internal process for fence permitting. Coupled with the Journey Map insights on resident frustration, the city took this information and instituted a policy change, removing a permit requirement for most residential fences. 

The 2016 Journey Map on fence permitting was the first time the City of Orlando used this engagement technique. They have since completed 175 more, making Journey Mapping a staple of their process and a cornerstone of their city hall culture. 

For guidance on using this and other Citizen Engagement Techniques, or to learn more about customizing solutions for your city, contact, contact Cities of Service at [email protected].


Learn more about

Citizen Engagement Techniques

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