User Flows for UX Design: Do You Really Need It?

User flows lay the foundation for an impactful, engaging and user-friendly UX design. But still confused whether you really need it? Learn all about user flows with this article!

Author

Tanvi Moitra

Date

August 6, 2023

If your UX design does not consider the user, your users won’t consider your site or app. There are a million sites and apps that solve the same problem. In this attention economy, if you snooze, you lose. 

The objective of your UX design should not be to create your version of a perfect site or app. Instead, it should be to meet the needs of your users. After all if your users are not using your product, then your design is far from perfect. 

Quote about importance of User Research

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That’s where user flows come to the rescue. These help you understand how your users interact with your product. It also  helps you optimize your product and understand what your users want. Basically, it shows you the path to creating a user-friendly UX design. 

In this article, we will delve into the nitty-gritty of user flows and determine if you really need it. 

So, let’s dive in!

What are User Flows?

While analyzing a web or app experience, there are various paths that a user can take from the start screen to reach the goal screen. A user flow depicts this interaction between the user and the product through a diagram, such as a flow chart. 

What are User Flows?

In UX design, user flows include each step a user takes to finish a specific task. This  helps optimize the product or create a design that results in a better user experience.

Fun Fact about User Flows

The Role of User Flow in UX Design 

User flows play a crucial role in UX design. It helps you understand and analyze how users interact with your website or app. You can also map the steps taken by the user to complete a specific task and determine the shortest and easiest way to lead them to the goal screen. 

Moreover, with user flows, you can identify and optimize the problem areas in your site or app. For example, if you can identify the friction points, you can reduce drop-offs by making small but impactful changes.

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Benefits of User Flows in UX Design

Improving the user experience is one of many benefits of a user flow. Here are a few more- 

1. It provides a fast and easy way to visualize the UX design 

Without needing specialized UX user flow tools, user flows allow you to easily explain every task (you can create the diagram in the design application of your choice, such as Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD).

All stakeholders can understand this type of design delivery because it resembles blocks and arrows. Additionally, you can create user flows before you design the product's interface to make the UI more seamless and logical.

2. It helps to get to know your audience better

When you pair user flows with data-driven marketing, you can get to know your audience and use the data to create a seamless and user-friendly user flow. By mapping how a user navigates through the UI, the user experience can be optimized to suit the user's expectations and preferences. 

By taking into account the user’s perspective, you can solve real problems faced by real people. 

3. It helps to reduce the likelihood of malfunctions

While a user tries to navigate through a site or app, there is a chance that the user might get lost or drop off. This can happen when certain areas confuse and mislead the users. 

A well-planned user flow identifies and eliminates these bottlenecks and provides insights into the pain points and the paths the users took trying to reach the goal screen.

4. It improves communication

By creating user flows, you can visually represent your ideas to all stakeholders. You can present your product design strategy, goals, roadblocks etc. 

User Flow vs User Journey

User journey mapping and user flows may seem similar, but they are used for different functions. Even though they help visually represent and strategize the user’s interaction with the site or app, they serve their own purpose in a research journey. 

User Journey of an E-commerce App

A user flow presents the probable steps the user can take to reach the goal screen from the start screen. But, user journeys map the user’s feelings, opinions, preferences and motivations.

What a User Flow Looks Like

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Where does User Flow Fit in the UX Design Process?

Where does User Flow Fit in the UX Design Process

User flows are typically created during the UX strategy stage in the research process. This helps align user perspectives and opinions with the product vision.

They can be used for optimizing- 1) UI, 2) Information architecture and 3) usability testing. Before generating high-fidelity wireframes, mockups and prototypes in the UX process, user flows can help formulate and visualize the ideas.

Moreover, creating user flows is not a linear process, and you can come back at any time and make changes to it, irrespective of where you are in your research journey.

Why do we Use User Flows? 

We can now dive into why user flows are advantageous to the design process now that we have defined them. Whether you are building a brand-new product or updating an existing one, user flows can be used in multiple ways.

You should use user flows if you need to:

1) Design a user-friendly interface

By providing an engaging and immersive experience to your users, you can increase their purchase intent and willingness to sign up for your products or services. 

Another advantage is that user flows make your platform easier to use and ensure users don't lose time wondering what to do next. Even though there are alternative paths a user might take to do the task, these potential patterns are depicted in user flows, making it simple for designers to evaluate the effectiveness of the interface they are developing.

2) Examine the existing User Interface

User flow charts can assist identify what's working, what isn't, and what needs to be improved in existing products. It helps identify the potential causes for user drop-offs and confusion and helps chalk out the solutions to optimize them.

3) Present your product to stakeholders

User flows also make it simple to explain the product's flow to your stakeholders and give a broad overview of how the interface you've designed is meant to function in its most effective form.

They outline what the customer will see and do while purchasing, logging in, signing up, etc. By assisting your design team in visualizing how consumers will use the product, you can make sure that everyone is on the same page, which promotes a more satisfying and productive work environment.

Types of User Flow and Visualizations

UX flows can be used for any interface or web design; however, depending on what you are doing, some flowchart patterns are more useful than others. Here, we review some user flow variations and their appropriate applications-

1) Task Flows

Task Flow

Task flows concentrate on the path users take through the platform as they carry out a particular task. Unlike a regular user flow, which could offer several branches or pathways, task flows typically only display one path. These work best when every user completes the task under analysis in a consistent manner. When using task flows, it is anticipated that every user will start from the same place and that there won't be any variation in how the task is completed.

2) Wire Flows

Wire Flow

Wireframes and flowcharts are combined to create wire flows. Individual screen layouts are used as parts of the diagram. On their own, wireframes can explain the layout and design of each individual page, but they are unable to explain the page-to-page flow of with a lot of dynamic content. Since what users view on each screen dramatically affects how they use the app or website, wire flows add page context to user flows.

Mobile screens can be created with ease by using wire flows. The more abstract shapes of flow charts are easily replaced by comparatively small mobile devices.

3) User Flows

User Flow

The way your target market will engage with the product is the main objective of user flows. They stress that various users could carry out activities differently and take different routes.

They frequently relate to a certain identity and entry point. As a result, you may use this sort of flowchart to represent a variety of scenarios that begin at various locations. 

How to Create a User Flow for UX Design

User Flow for UX Design

Creating user flows is simple, but if not done the right way, can also create a domino effect of bad user design and experience. Let us look at how you can create an effective user flow-

Step 1-  Learn about your users

As a designer, you may not feel like user research is your cup of tea. But to create a user-friendly product, you must design a functional user flow, and the only way to do that is by knowing your user.  

To analyze your target audience and get insights into their pain points, demographic, opinions and preferences, you can use user research tools like Qatalyst. 

When you conduct user research, you will gain a thorough understanding of your target market. You will also get actionable insights regarding their behaviour while interacting with your product. 

Step 2 - Make a list of your research objectives

Having a clear objective helps you choose the right type of user flow. Typically, the ultimate objective would be to increase sales or conversion rates, but it is equally important to improve user experience. Keeping the user in mind while creating the user flow will help you build a more impactful product in the long run. 

Step 3 - Create an Outline

It is strongly advised to outline all phases on paper or using other user research platforms, like Qatalyst, before developing a user flow. It can help you create and design the product faster and more clearly.

Step 4 - Choose the right user flow

In the above section, we discussed the different types of user flows and where to use them. You can choose the one that best suits your research needs and objectives.

Step 5 - Create the user flow

Once you have everything in place, this step should be easy breezy! Remember that the user flow should be clean, easy to understand, present, follow and update.

Step 6 - Review and Update

Once you are done creating your user flow, you should go through it thoroughly to identify any missing action items. It is essential to ensure that the user flow is logical and makes sense to all stakeholders. Keep your team in the loop and be open to feedback to ensure everyone’s opinions are accounted for.

Do I really need to Create a User Flow?

The simple answer is YES

Simply because user flows lay the foundation for an impactful, engaging and user-friendly UX design. It helps document the user’s interaction with your product, shape the UX design strategy, create a simple and intuitive IA and increase the chances of sign-ups and purchases. 

And if you need any help with UX research, Qatalyst is here to solve all your problems. With its research templates, emotion AI-enabled platform, online repository and much more, it provides holistic support to all your user research endeavours.

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Author Bio

Tanvi can usually be found anxiously treading the office floor to get her content reviewed, here at Entropik. When not absorbed by researching and writing, she loves to read, go for a swim, play badminton, paint, and otherwise spend too much time bingeing on the Office and cuddling her German Shepherd, Whiskey. An absolute foodie, she would love to cook and bake for you and even give you the best dessert suggestions in the office.

Tanvi Moitra

Product Marketing Specialist

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