What Is User Flow?
User Flow Definition
User flow refers to the flow chart or diagram that shows the path a prototypical user will take when visiting an application. UX designers mostly use visualized paths. User flow captures the entire process in a single image. It places the customer at the heart of the design process helping product teams to give them a better user experience.
User flow is the path taken by a prototypical user to complete a task.
The user flow begins from an entry point and guides the user through steps towards completing an outcome.
The process can be such as a signup or a purchase.
Three main reasons for product teams to build the user flow are:
- To craft intuitive products.
Pro tip: As a product manager, if crafting amazing products is your goal, you must use Chisel- a product management software.
- Give the correct information to the audience at the perfect time.
- Guide users to take desired steps in minimum time.
User flow allows designers to optimize and evaluate the user experience, which could ultimately increase client conversion rates.
What Are the Different Types of User Flows?
You can use user flow for all kinds of web designing and interfaces. However, some are better than others. Here we will discuss three main types of user flows.
Task flow shows how the users navigate the website when performing a particular task.
In a traditional user flow, there are multiple pathways or branches. However, you can see only a singular path in the task flow.
When wireframes and flow charts come together, we refer to them as the wire flow.
In wire flow, individual screens are elements in the diagram.
Adding page context to the UX flows is the job of wire flows.
What users see on the website greatly impacts their overall experience.
You must use the wire flows when creating mobile screens.
You can easily replace the small size of the mobile screens with flow charts that are more abstract shapes.
UI flows are the wire flows with just the high fidelity mockups.
Mostly you won’t be able to pinpoint the difference between the wire flow and a UI flow.
The purpose of both types of user flows to visualize the way users interact with the interface.
UI flow has more detailed mock-ups.
How Do You Create a User Flow?
In under five steps, we will understand how to create a user flow.
Understanding your users
If designing the best user flow is your goal, you must begin by understanding your users’ needs and motivations.
As the following questions:
- What are the users’ needs?
- What problems need to be solved?
- What features do users need?
Also, identify the key pathways.
Creating a flow outline
It is essential to begin Designing your user flow with a draft or a mind map.
You must draw a box, and it should represent the steps users will take.
You can divide your draft into three parts:
- Entry point
The entry point in user flow refers to the channel through which the user gets initial access to the product. Your website can have numerous entry points.
- Steps toward completion
The second step consists of onboarding, login screens, home screen, and others.
- The final step
Lastly, the interaction step includes the screen your users will see when they complete a task. What is the last thing that pops up on the screen when the user finishes the task? For example, ‘ we have got your order’.
Defining the elements of the user flow
The designers of user flow will use different shapes and colors to denote the set of elements.
Some of the common shapes designers use are:
- Lines with arrows
Refining your outline/draft
When designing a user flow chart, keep the same principles in mind while designing an interface.
Keep the below three points in mind:
- Labels must be meaningful
- Use colors for the coding system and not styling
- Keep consistency with your visual structure
Involve the developers in designing the user flow.
Creating a user flow
Now that you have the draft ready, you can put the necessary details and start working on it.
Remember, user flow allows you to step in the shoes of your users. And designing the flow chart at the beginning will clear out all the misunderstandings.
What Are User Flow Examples?
User flow can vary based on the website or product you are designing. For example, the user flow for an eCommerce website would go something like this:
- The user starts on the homepage.
- Then they select a category.
- Choose a product.
- Add the product to the cart.
- The user checks out.
- They complete the purchase.
The above example is highly simplified and an ideal case. A user may browse through different categories before selecting a product and adding it to the cart.
The purpose of user flow is just to highlight what could be the most common path to purchase among the users.
You can improve improvements to the user flow by analyzing what the user wants and needs. Because user flows can differ for every user, teams often model them as flow charts.
Designers need to keep exploring different user flows to make the site more intuitive and easy for users to understand.
Why Is the User Flow Important in UX Design?
After you conduct the user research and while the planning of your design is ongoing, user flows get synthesized.
Doing so forms a foundation on which your product teams will guide the product. It will also serve as the reference point for designers later on. To track the product progress of your teams, use product management software.
After gathering data from user testing, user flows will help your teams determine the following:
- The number of screens needed
- The order the screens must appear
- The components the screens must contain
Three things will be ready till the time you create a user flow.
- Persona development
- Empathy mapping
- Affinity diagrams
Product development teams’ responsibilities include user flows as deliverables.
You must provide the elements it the client and the design team once your product is ready.
When you present a flow chart with all the necessary details, this can help you validate the design decisions to your other team members.
However, now that the research thinks it’s important, the teams may have to revise the designs and revisit and edit the user flows.
User flows play an essential role in communicating design to the product managers, developers, and stakeholders.
User flow gives teams a bird’s eye view of the entire product.
Task Flow vs. User Flow
The common goal of task flow and user flow is to design the best user experience for its customers. However, the docs of each of these flows differ.
In a task flow, the focus is more on a particular task, whereas, in a user flow, the focus is mainly on a specific user.
Most people think of task flow as a linear process, but it is more complex than that. A user must go through multiple screens with task flow to complete the task.
On the other hand, user flow is a more fluid process where users can skip screens or change their minds before they reach the end of the process.
The focus of task flow is to accomplish a task on a high level. These tasks can involve adding a particular item to the user’s cart or signing up for a service.
User flow is essential for adding decisions and edge cases that a user takes, which will change the flow course.
Task flow is a single flow completed in the same way by all the users for any specific action.
User flow diagrams are representations of paths taken by the user to perform a task on any website or application.
Designers model them by flow charts representing all the user’s steps from the entry point to the final action.
As the name suggests, user flow analysis helps the product teams understand the customers’ regular visualized paths. User flow analysis clearly shows how the people navigate through your application, website, or digital products, including where the place they take off.
You can do user flow analysis for your products using the analytical tool mixpanel.