User Flow is a technique that allows you to quickly map the entire flow of screens on your website or application – and diagramming is indispensable for mastering user experience. This technique aims to align the paths and actions that the user can take together with members of your team.
This tool, widely used by UX and Product Designers, consists in the mapping of the path that the user will take, and the actions that can be taken in the interface of a product, thus determining how many screens will be needed, in what order the information should appear and which components should be present on users’ screens.
These flows are made up of small interactions, and each screen will offer a number of possibilities for the user to choose from. This is why it’s important to carry out this mapping before the screen drawings.
In this way, when the time comes to create the wireframes, we’ll already have an overview of the flow and will know the interactive possibilities, what works and what doesn’t make sense on-screen.
But before you start designing screens for your new product, it is important to get to know your users and define the purpose of your digital product. For example, your objective may be for the customer to get in touch via your website, buy a product on your virtual store, or subscribe to a service that is being offered on your platform.
These aspects are indispensable in order to make coherent User Flows. Basically, this diagram helps you design the journey which your users will have to go through in order to reach your business objectives while obtaining the value which they are looking for.
Difference between User Flow and User Journey?
User Flow is the map of the paths your user will take on your website or app. It begins with their initial interaction with your site or application and ends with their final action. The key word here is “website”. Basically, User Flow is a map of users’ decisions on your site.
The User Journey, however, starts long before users enter your website. The information they hear about your product, the advertisements they see on the internet, the newsletters sent to them – these are all part of the User Journey.
This difference should be clear once we define the start and end of the User Flow. When users stop interacting with your website, the User Flow ends. The User Journey, on the other hand, does not.
What are the types of User Flow?
- Current Flow: this maps the paths and actions that the user takes when performing certain tasks. Sometimes this flow is not 100% mapped, in which case this needs to be done to get an exact idea of each step and identify any issues;
- Ideal Flow: this sketches out the ideal paths and options from the user’s point of view, considering everything raised in Concept Tests, Usability, and In-Depth Interviews. While it may not always be fully implemented, this flow is important for documenting what the user expects, either as a goal or as a vision;
- Satisfactory Flow: the limitations of technical, financial and business strategies often do not allow for the application of the Ideal Flow. In these cases, the UX team and others involved in the project devise a solution to improve the Current Flow within the limits of what is possible at the time, taking into account the users’ notes.
Steps for applying User Flow in your routine
The first step in learning how to implement User Flow is understanding who your users are and identifying their needs and motivations.
So keep in mind what problems your users would like to solve, what questions they might have about the product, and what information should appear easily throughout every interaction. Think of all the navigation possibilities, and identify the main paths.
Next, start drawing the flow on a sheet of paper, or using digital tools, and choose the elements that will compose this flow and their representations. Models vary from designer to designer, but the template is where you can map out customers’ interactions with your product or service. Doing so helps to improve your services and product experience.
Here are some steps to guide you
Take advantage of Google Analytics to obtain the precise percentages for each of these entry points;
- Understand the Customer Journey and conduct proper user research. Designing user personas will help you to create smoother user flows. Once you have created your client’s profile, you will be a step closer to understanding your User Journey.
- Identify your goals and your users’ objectives. Your business goals will usually be the final outcome of the actions that you want your users to take. The goals of your users should include the desires and needs which they are looking to satisfy.
- Identify the information that your users are searching for to design the best possible User Flow. Try to understand what problems they have, their doubts, and what kind of answers they are looking for.
- Visualize your User Flows and think about what your users will do before and after visiting a particular page on your website, identifying the pages you will need to create and the content you will need to include.
- Prototype your flow, then review, refine and test. This will help you to determine whether your website is designed according to your and your users’ objectives. Once your prototype is ready, you can test it out with actual clients.
- Know where your users are coming from. It is extremely important to map possible entry points in order to be assertive in your User Flow. These typically include:
- Direct traffic
- Social media
- Organic search
- Paid advertising
Creating User Flows is a quick way to map the key touch points between your customer and your product or service. It’s a great way to establish a minimum set of features for your product.