Mapping Experiences Rapidly – Free eBook

Mapping experiences is a broad set of activities that engage others. Though often focused on heavy, upfront research and hi-fidelity visualizations, these need not be the case. The benefits of mapping can be realized in a short period of time—about one to two weeks in total duration.

Get my free ebook from O’Reilly to find out how.

A key thing to remember is that creating a diagram is not about artistic talent. It’s also not about painstaking, drawn-out investigation. Rather, it’s about creating a visualization that breaks organizational silos and aligns teams around a common view of the experience.

Just consider this simple map of an experience for going to Starbucks created by Eric Berkman, a design strategist and author of Designing Mobile Interfaces (O’Reilly, 2011). It’s visually minimal, but reveals key insights about both negative and positive service aspects at a Starbucks coffee shop.


Simple but very effective!

The key is to focus on the verb mapping rather than the noun map. The journey is as important—if not more so—than the destination. It’s better that your team has the same perspective and the same basis for decision making than having a good-looking diagram. And that can be accomplished quickly.

A General Process for Mapping

In Mapping Experiences, I outline four modes of activity for a mapping process:


The table below summarizes the time to complete each rapidly.

Initiate 1 hour to 1 day Ensure the effort is relevant to the organization
Investigate 1 to 4 days Ground the effort in reality with research and feedback from real people
Illustrate .5 to 3 days Visualize the experience for the whole organization to see
Align and Envision 1 to 4 days Foster conversations and activities around the experience to come up with solutions
Total 1 week to 2 weeks

The key is to focus on the objective of each of the stages and get to “done” quickly. Again, it’s about fostering the right, user-centered conversations with a team.

Get the full eBook here. 


About Jim Kalbach

Head of Customer Experience at MURAL


  1. Hi Jim, thanks for the post and the book. Looking forward to checking out your approach. One question — why the emphasis on “rapid” techniques, and do you ever practice or recommend research that is longer than the 1-4 days of the investigative stage you outline here?

    • Jim Kalbach

      The rapid focus is just a cross section of themes from my full-length book, Mapping Experiences. Of course there research can be longer than 1-4 days, and I generally recommend that. In many cases, though, teams don’t have that luxury. I’d rather have people be able to do some research and some mapping than none. That’s all.

  2. Nithin Raj

    Hi Jim,

    Do you offer any mentorship opportunities? I read a sample chapter of your book “Mapping experiences” and I intend to buy the book for a complete read because of its practical nature yet its ability to connect emotionally.

    If there is any possibility for you to mentor, I would be very interested. Kindly let me know on my email.

    Thank you,

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