A sticky note assembly on a white wall. Photo (adapted & cropped) by Hugo Rocha on Unsplash.
A sticky note assembly on a white wall. Photo (adapted & cropped) by Hugo Rocha on Unsplash.

Why is affinity mapping in UX so difficult?

5 insights to make this powerful tool easy to use

Eva Schicker
7 min readDec 13, 2022


The concept of affinity mapping

‘Affinity’ describes the overarching idea to link topics, themes, or concerns that have a likeness or similarity to each other.

‘Mapping’ means the analysis of all items linked through affinity to recognize patterns, themes and trends.

Probably every UX designer has been asked to show an affinity map as part of their professional qualities. Affinity mapping is one of the most powerful tools in our UX tool kit.[1]

Read up on the basic idea of affinity mapping:

But affinity mapping is not just a composition of stickies. It is a succinct and truthful filigree of data distillation to show trends and themes emerge from detailed rounds of research.

Affinity mapping topics and themes include users’ positive engagments on the one hand, and also on the other hand, pain points, frustrations, lack of understanding, the paths not taken, the dead-ends, the questions and rumbles that need improvement or correction in the next product development iteration.

Affinity mapping is super-strategic and creatively strategic at once

We’ve all seen the ubiquitous signs of an affinity map, also sometimes referred to as affinity diagram, the sticky notes. Sticky notes come in a multitude of colors, and that’s a great thing for UX.

You may have seen images of sticky notes on windows, walls, doors, and so on, or you may have placed these stickies yourself.

Let’s review the 5 insights that make affinity mapping such as powerful UX tool.

1. The organizing methods

Get your physical, multi-colored paper sticky notes ready



Eva Schicker

Hello. I write about UX, UI, AI, animation, tech, art & design through the eyes of a designer. UX lead Lelantos Press, NYC UX GA grad. Top writer 5x.