Affinity Mapping

Affinity mapping is a powerful tool often used by product teams to help them uncover patterns and relationships in user data.


To create an affinity map, follow the below steps:

1. Data gathering: Start by gathering data, such as user feedback, research data, interviews, and surveys. A good way to do this is with post-it notes on a whiteboard.

2. Organize to find relationships:  Organize this data into related categories.

Note: For items that can’t be grouped, set them aside and deal with them later.

At the end of the exercise, you’ll see clearly groups items — this takes you to the final step.

3. Organize to take action: Once you’ve created your affinity diagram, use it to create action items and timelines that push you to actually solve the problem you discussed. During this step, place items into a hierarchy, and prioritize action items.

Pro tips
Diverse group

Having different perspectives in an Affinity Map brainstorming session is a great way to get interesting results. Invite people from different departments with varying degrees of knowledge about the subject. The biggest benefit in doing this is that you’ll avoid group think.

Select a lead person

A brainstorming session requires a facilitator in order to be successful. The ideal facilitator should possess strong listening and analytical skills, as well as excellent communication skills. 

Clear objective

Your must start with a clear objective. For example, this could be a question you’re trying to answer or a problem you’re trying to solve.

When to use it

Use Affinity maps if you are looking for a way to quickly organize and make sense of data. The tool is especially  effective in the following scenarios:

  • Solving complex problems.
  • You’re trying to narrow down a number of ideas.
  • You have a lot of data to work with.


Quickly identify relationships between data points

Affinity mapping displays data in a way that makes it easy to see the relationship between certain elements.

Uncover insights

Insights aren't always obvious when data is structured traditionally (bullet points). The visual display of data in an Affinity Map can help teams see things differently.

Prioritize what's important

Affinity mapping will help you prioritize what's important. Groups with the most amount of data can signal an area that needs priotity.


Let’s assume you’re looking at negative customer feedback on your product.

  1. Your team would come together and document all of the feedback on individual post-it notes.
  2. The team would then start grouping these together based on relationships. EG perhaps several issues were related to product log-in — these would be grouped together.
  3. Once all of the feedback has been organized, the team would then prioritize what to work on, and in what order.

Let's chat

Please reach out if you have questions about Affinity Mapping.

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