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I was wondering what the difference is between a use case and a user journey? To me they seem to be doing the same thing?

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    Hi and welcome. Have you checked the definitions for Use cases and User journeys? It would probably improve your question if you stated the definitions and pointed to exactly which parts you're confused by. – RobbyReindeer Jan 28 at 10:43
  • When I would read or write use cases, they were more than the summary of the action being taken. They included the list of steps. Maybe it was just that we didn't have a name for "user journey" back then that we'd put the two together—I can't tell. I do want to ask though: isn't a user journey about the journey of a single user through the system? A user-centric view? If so, where does a list of steps involving multiple users fit? Use case to the rescue? – Mihai Danila Oct 30 at 12:14
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I would say there is a difference, it might be difficult to explain outright but let me try by using examples of how I use both Use cases and User journeys.

Usually in my projects I will use Use Cases and User Journeys to break down the needs and process of the user. I'm going to use a library for this example.

In the first step I will create Use Cases which essentially outline what goals the User has.

Use Cases examples:

  1. As a library member... I want to take out a book.
  2. As a library member... I want to return a book.

Now that I have my Use Cases I need to break down these goals into steps, to define the process at every possible stage. So, taking each Use Case I will usually create a flow diagram for that (User Journey).

User Journey example:

  1. User Journey 1 (based on Use Case 1)

User enters the library -> User goes to the historical section -> User finds desired book on WW1 history -> User goes to reception ... etc etc and you follow the flow at each possible step until the Use Case has been fulfilled.

The journey will help you identify areas in the process which can be improved.

  • When I would read or write use cases, they were more than the summary of the action being taken. They included the list of steps. Maybe it was just that we didn't have a name for "user journey" back then that we'd put the two together—I can't tell. I do want to ask though: isn't a user journey about the journey of a single user through the system? A user-centric view? If so, where does a list of steps involving multiple users fit? Use case to the rescue? – Mihai Danila Oct 30 at 12:14
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Below are a few links, 2 are IBM Knowledge Center articles. From reading these articles, the tools for each appear different. Which tool to use may come down to a choice based on perspective and situation.

Perhaps the "Journey" may be more for a business goal (i.e. marketing campaign) or user experience (UX) review; whereas the "Use Cases" may be more for gathering functional and non-functional requirements where technical and business collaborate during systems analysis, requirements gathering and test case development.

It's been a while, but I used to use Use Cases when working with business to gather requirements for developers and testers. If I'd have known about User Journey tools, I'd likely have used them for scripting usability studies.

Here are 3 links to relevant articles that may be of interest: User Journey (usability) Use Case (IBM) Creating Customer Journeys (IBM)

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Use cases are used by both the development and business teams in application development, to describe user flows and the interaction between users and systems. It's a technical document that can be shared between the different state holders in the team (information architects, frontend and backend developers, quality assurance, business analysts). A use case captures details on the different types of flows - ideal, exceptions, alternates, and the various conditions involved. They are very useful for UX/UI designers because you get an overview of the possible system states e.g. errors, edge cases, which you can account and design for.

A user journey also describes the steps involved in the task but does not branch out into the different cases. A user journey contains more details on the user as a persona i.e. user profile, emotions and context of use, so it serves as a document for communicating product design information, rather than technical information.

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I think the user journey is a user-centric view of the task and the use case is a system-centric view of the same. They are the same but from different perspectives.

A user journey may involve multiple users (and obviously it may involve multiple systems). A use case may involve multiple systems (and obviously it may involve multiple users). Like that, they are equally expressive.

If the above is true, then the user journey is the better vantage point and a slight evolution from the use case, but if you have the right values in mind, you can use either tool and get a user-friendly outcome.

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