Editorial piece
written by
Katharina Rainer
October 2021

Smaply vs UXPressia: What's the best journey mapping tool in 2022

So you can't decide whether to purchase UXPressia or Smaply?

There are a handful of journey mapping tools on the market, however knowing which one is best suited for your organization's needs can be a difficult task. In this article we hope to assist you in your decision making if you are on the fence in your decision between choosing Smaply vs UXPressia

Given that we make one of these products we will endeavour to make this article as unbiased as possible so that you have the best chances of picking the software that is right for your organization. 

In this article we will explore a range of different topics including: 

  • Software features
  • Pricing models and scalability
  • Data security 
  • Knowledge and thought leadership 
  • Service Design education and resources 
  • Journey Map Operations  
  • Support for non-profit organizations 

We will attempt to give you the big picture and show you the key aspects that will help you with your decision making rather than getting too caught up in the details. 

Ultimately what matters is that you are able to make fantastic journey maps that enable you to improve the experience of your customers, employees or other stakeholders involved in your service delivery. So whatever solution you choose it's great that you're moving in the direction of using service design tools. 

Smaply vs UXPressia at a glance 

This isn't a baking blog, so we're not going to make you trawl through an essay in order to reach the points that will actually help you to make a decision. So let's just cut to the chase and put the summary at the top, then if you're still interested in the details you can scroll down and read the more in depth analysis below. 

Here's a quick overview. 

Reasons to use Smaply 

Overall Smaply offers better value for money for pro customers, there is a greater focus on using journey mapping as an operational tool and the team has a wealth of industry experience that informs their product development and customer support. 

  • Organizational Service Design knowledge grounded in 15+ years of applied experience (thisisdoing.com and TiSDD
  • Experience and support for implementing Journey Mapping at an operational level
  • Unique features such as Stakeholder Mapping and Smaply Capture 
  • Slightly more cost effective Pro plans
  • High levels of software security  
  • Variety of pricing models for Enterprise customers

Smaply Reviews:

“Smaply lets organizations see and understand what's an overall experience of their customers, see their service as a process with stages, touchpoints and moments of truth. Helps employees understand their role in the whole services and generates a lot of impulsed for change and innovation. It is a kind of proof for management supporting decision making.” — Marcin C (softwareadvice.co.nz)

Reasons to use UXPressia  

UXPressia offers its customers simplified interfaces that offer quick and colourful journey maps and personas. It offers Impact Mapping and offers a range of in app templates which are good for beginners in journey mapping.  Of all the other options UXPressia is still the closest Smaply alternative journey mapping tool.


  • Colorful and playful designs for quick and easy presentation
  • Impact Mapping features 
  • UXPressia Academy for Service Design education
  • Persona comparison view 
  • Cheaper Basic plan 

UXPressia Reviews:

“My overall experience was great. It helped me create personas and customer journey maps which was really insightful to the creation of our product. I really liked the design of the interface. I loved the dark mode, all the colors used and the clean simple interface. I thought it was simple and easy to do all the things that I was trying.” — Trevor M (getapp.co.nz)

Here is the general overview of the two organizations behind the products

  • Smaply is the product of More than Metrics, an Austrian based service design software company founded in 2012 by Marc Stickdorn, Jakob Schneider, and Klaus Schwarzenberger. Their vision is to support organizations all around the world to practice service design and use journey mapping to improve CX decision making and customer experience. 
  • UXPressia has their offices in California and was founded in 2014 by Yuri Vedenin. UXPressia provides a set of online tools for visualizing customer experience and was  launched from a desire to help people improve customer experience of their services. 
  • Both Smaply and UXPressia provide cloud-based journey mapping software that assist organizations to improve their customer experience. They are able to do this through tools such as customer journey mapping, personas, impact maps (UXPressia) and stakeholder maps (Smaply)

Software Features 

There are several core features that journey mapping software must include - for example.

  • The ability to create personas
  • Journey maps with modifiable stages and lanes 
  • Different formats for export and sharing 

Both Smaply and UXPressia deliver well on these basics. There are however some variations, other than the obvious UI differences, that set these two products apart.

For example UXPressia offers users the ability to make Impact Maps, whereas Smaply has opted for Stakeholder Mapping tools. Which of these is most helpful to you will highly depend on what you're trying to achieve in your project. 

One other differentiating feature that Smaply offers its users is Smaply Capture, which helps to digitize physical pen-and-paper journey maps and import them directly into Smaply. (If you've ever manually entered a journey map after a workshop, you know this will save a lot of time and effort)

Also, Smaply Capture lets users transfer journey maps made with white boarding tools like Miro, Mural, Lucidspark and Excel to Smaply.

In the next section we will take a closer look at some of the different features offered in the tools. 

Customer Journey Mapping

Journey Mapping is the feature that everyone came for, and which sits at the core of both of these tools. Both Smaply and UXPressia have advanced tools for creating highly customized, visually appealing journey maps that can assist in improving CX outcomes.  

Both tools allow for highly modifiable maps with customizable lanes so you can display the relevant information that's required. Whether this is different Channels, Emotional Journeys, Dramatic Arcs, Backstage lanes, File lanes and Storyboard lanes that help people engage visually. There are a few lane types that are exclusively to be found on one of the tools, like the Jira-integration lane of Smaply, or the Embed-lane of UXPressia.

UXPressia benefits from some basic templates that help beginners in journey mapping get started. Smaply doesn't have as many templates, but there are a number of example journey maps for different industries available in the app that you can adapt to your needs and use as templates when you're getting started. 

Smaply accounts by default have an integration with The Noun Project which allows you to seamlessly add suitable images to different steps within the app. This can save time and effort sourcing the right images and can ensure consistency between a collection of images. Using UXPressia all images must be manually sourced and uploaded. 

Smaply also allows you to include a dedicated journey map link lane which is used to embed sub-journeys into higher level maps, creating a hierarchy. This is particularly helpful for organizing and consolidating different journey maps and gives Smaply the edge in the area of journey map operations. 

Personas 

Both Smaply and UXPressia have comprehensive persona building tools with the differences being primarily aesthetic. Whereas Smaply offers a cleaner, more minimalistic output, UXPressia adds more colour options and a darker background. We have included examples of exports from both tools so you can see the differences in style. 

Persona exports created in Smaply and UXPressia, comparing the tools.

As far as visual style is concerned, Smaply offers a more clean minimalistic appearance. UXPressia has a slightly more diverse range of colouring options. 

Journey Map Exports

Screenshots of the export settings in Smaply and UXPressia.

Exporting your journey map is an important phase for how you communicate and share what you have created. Both UXPressia and Smaply offer a range of different export options that are suitable for sharing your journey maps and personas. 

Smaply provides users with the ability to export in the format that is most supportive of their needs, whether this is PNG, PDF, Powerpoint or XLS spreadsheets. The Smaply export manager also includes a handy history feature which enables easy access to previous exports. UXPressia also allows users to create exports in PNG, CSV, Powerpoint, and PDF formats. 

Stakeholder Mapping and Impact Mapping 

A stakeholder map created in Smaply versus an Impact map created in UXPressia.

One of the key feature differences between the two tools is that UXPressia offers Impact Maps whereas Smaply provides Stakeholder Mapping. At a high level, Impact Maps offer a technique for planning that lets teams set business goals and visualize the way and the means to achieve these goals.

Smaply has chosen to focus more on mapping tools that demonstrate the complexity of stakeholder relationships that exist with an organization. These maps can then be used to strengthen and improve key relationships related to service delivery.

For more information on both of these tools you can read about them here:  

Read about Stakeholder Maps here: https://www.smaply.com/blog/stakeholdermaps

Read about Impact Maps here: https://www.impactmapping.org/about.html

Smaply Capture

Another helpful feature which Smaply provides to its users is Smaply Capture. The capture app allows you to digitize your physical journey maps and import them directly into Smaply. For anyone who has done this manually you will appreciate the time and effort saved compared to manually doing this. The same technology has been applied in-app to allow for imports from Miro, Mural, Lucidspark and Excel. To date, there is no comparable feature in UXPressia. 

If you would like to try Smaply Capture you can download it for iOS or Android.  

Pricing models and scalability

Both Smaply and UXPressia have a range of different pricing models, each with various levels of access to features, business services and support. Here is a basic overview of each company's pricing plans with the cheapest plan highlighted at each level. Each price is represented as cost per user, per month. 

Free Starter/Basic Pro Enterprise
Smaply Free 25 USD/Month 35 USD/Month Custom
UXPressia Free 16 USD/Month 36 USD/Month Custom

Free Plan 

Smaply price: Free 

UXPressia price: Free 

Smaply and UXPressia provide some of the best free journey mapping tools around and with their entry level offer comes a stripped back version of their full software. So which one is the best for you? There are subtle differences with the most noticeable being that Smaply offers users up to three journey maps and three personas on the free plan, while UXPressia only offers the ability to create one journey map, one persona and one impact map.

Free plans are a great place to get started and test out whether the approach and tools are right for you. Both tools allow for exports in their free plan, however limit exports to PNG, with more advanced export options being available with paid plans.

Basic/Starter Plan 

Smaply price: 19 Euro per user / month 

UXPressia price: 16 USD per user / month 

Smaply and UXPressia both offer plans for organizations looking to take journey mapping to the next stage within their organizations. At this level UXPressia offers a cheaper rate for users, however both the number of users and personas is restricted to three whereas in Smaply they are unlimited. Smaply and UXPressia both allow for a total of three different projects with their basic plans, which gets upgraded to unlimited when you subscribe to one of their Pro plans.

Smaply Basic Plan UXPressia Starter Plan
Number of users Unlimited Unlimited
Number of journey maps 3 3
Number of personas Unlimited 3

Pro Plan

Smaply Price: 29 Euro per user/month

UXPressia Price: 36 USD per user/month

Pro level plans for both Smaply and UXPressia offer a fully featured offer that includes unlimited projects, journey maps and personas for both products. For Smaply customers this also comes with unlimited stakeholder maps, and for UXPressia customers unlimited impact maps. 

The Pro level subscriptions show minor price differences between Smaply and UXPressia. With Smaply being $1USD cheaper per user as of 2022.  

Smaply Pro Features UXPressia Pro Features
Unlimited projects, project archive Unlimited projects
Unlimited Customer Journey Maps Unlimited personas
Unlimited Personas Unlimited customer journey maps
Unlimited Stakeholder Maps Unlimited impact maps
Live data integration (from Google spreadsheets) Unlimited access to templates
File lane (attach files to steps, max: 100 MB per file, 1 GB in total), Branding
Link lane (connect maps, build journey map hierarchies, zoom in and out) Google Analytics, Mixpanel, and Slack integrations
Comment mode (invite others to discuss your maps without the need to buy a seat for them), PowerPoint export Branding
Import your maps from Mural, Miro, Excel, LucidSpark and photos
Custom-branded exports

Enterprise Plans

Smaply price: Custom 

UXPressia price: Custom 

Enterprise offerings are for organizations who want to embed journey mapping as a regular way of working. Both Smaply and UXPressia offer customizable plans for Enterprise customers. These plans are for large organizations and offer extensive support and features that help integrate service design into bigger teams. 

At Smaply enterprise customers receive a range of benefits that extend from the pro plan that include unlimited storage, a personal account manager, coaching hours from our experienced team, tailored contracts and procurement and the ability to have a say in Smaply's future roadmap and new features.  Enterprise customers get a custom Single Sign On (SSO) and API access. 

UXPressia also offers a range of benefits to their enterprise customers, including a customer domain, access to workshops and special events, consulting sessions with UXPressia professionals, access to UXPressia Academy (the educational resources) and procurement. 

Data security

“Cybercrime as a whole has increased by 600% since the beginning of the global pandemic” — Purplesec.us Cyber Security Trends 2021

It's a given in 2022 that data security must be taken seriously, in order to protect the privacy organizations and the customers they are working with. As our work lives and tools become progressively more digital it is important to know that our data is in safe hands. 

Both Smaply and UXPressia are GDPR compliant and take a number of measures to ensure the safety of customer data. For Smaply at least, development teams are internal, adding security as they never need to outsource any code / development work. As a result they have full control over who has access to the code and customer data. 

Smaply is also able to offer organizations who use the product the ability to host Smaply accounts on dedicated servers of their choice, which allows for customized IT-security frameworks which best meets their requirements. 

Knowledge and thought leadership

Both organizations have been around for almost ten years and are regularly posting content for the service design community. The key difference between the two companies is the depth of service design experience that they bring to their offerings. 

Smaply has its foundations in the field of service design and builds on 15+ years of knowledge and experience. The founders at Smaply have published seminal books in the field of service design (This is Service Design Thinking, This is Service Design Doing and This is Service Design Methods). The team at Smaply also deliver executive courses and coaching on how to embed and scale service design within organizations. 

Book: This is Service Design Doing: Applying Service Design Thinking in the Real World.

In contrast UXPressia has a background that is more from the business analysis/tech domain, rather than service design. They also offer coaching, however without the same depth of experience, or industry knowledge that Smaply has grown over the years. 

Both organizations have active blogs where they regularly post updated content covering trends, techniques and insights from the world of service design. 

Service Design education and resources

With it's history of experience and knowledge to draw on, the team at Smaply have developed a number of resources that help people on their service design journeys. The Smaply blog hosts a range of informative articles, white papers and interviews that assist people to introduce, use and embed service design within their organizations. 

Some of Smaply's best educational offers are actually free, including an online CX course which covers fundamental topics in service design such as journey maps, personas, and stakeholder maps. 

Another popular content series that Smaply offers is their ‘Ask Marc Sessions’, these are participatory conversations with Marc Stickdorn which focus on key elements of the service design process and how people can apply and get the most out of journey mapping.

UXPressia also releases regular updates on their youtube channel which features interviews and seminars on different journey mapping subjects. For service design education UXPressia delivers courses through their Academy. The Academy offers courses which cover fundamental service design subjects for individuals and teams and cover subjects such as "journey mapping fundamentals” and "persona creation”. As these are additional services with costs starting at $50USD per course unless you are subscribed to one of their premium plans. 

Journey Map Operations

Both Smaply and UXPressia have slightly different takes on the topic of Journey Maps. UXPressia focuses their software more towards quick visualisations, whereas Smaply strives to make journey maps more of a dedicated management tool. The team at Smaply are proficient in the area of Journey Map OperationsTM and lead by example in this approach, backed by research, coaching of teams and companies, public talks, and courses we have run on this topic for many years. 

For more learning resources on Journey Map Ops you can check out this talk and view this course.

Support for non-profit organizations

Both Smaply and UXPressia demonstrate support for non-profit organizations who wish to use their services. In this regard both offerings are remarkably similar with discounts and mutual exchanges. 

Smaply offers heavy discounts for projects with an educational purpose schools, universities, and individual students) and for NGOs. With the additional possibility of receiving a discount if organizations agree to sharing insights about their service design project and collaborating on a case study that is relevant to our audience.

UXPressia offers 50% off on the Pro plan for 6 months. But organizations can also request a 100% discount for six months in exchange for providing information that could be used to make a case study on how design thinking has influenced your organization.  

Summary

As you will have learnt there are some significant aspects that differentiate Smaply and UXPressia. Making the right choice will depend on your own context and needs. 

Jump back to the summary at the beginning. 

What other customer journey mapping tools are there that could potentially help you for your endeavours? Check out this article comparing the best customer journey mapping tools. And if we haven't covered any of the details that you would like to know more about, please send us an email at mail@smaply.com and we will be more than happy to answer any questions. 

Written by
Katharina Rainer

Katharina is a marketer with a background in business and psychology. She loves both logical as well as empathic thinking and always strives to align the goals of organizations and their customers. Besides SaaS marketing, her heart also beats for social engagement, for which reason she supports several NGOs with their communication matters.

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