An Ultimate Guide to UX Flow

The importance of user experience flow to the product design process is hard to underestimate. It simplifies the life of both the designer and the user. Creating UX flows helps the designer to build the strategy of designing the product with a clear focus on users’ needs, and promotes choosing the best algorithm for completing tasks for different user types. 

But what exactly is user experience flow? How to build one? What helps to quickly visualize UX flows? 

To get quick and clear answers to the main questions that concern UX flows we are welcome you to continue reading further. 

Brief definition

User flow is a simple diagram that describes the steps a user should take with your product or service to achieve a goal. 

Image credit: lucidchart.com

Unlike a customer journey map, user experience flow only takes into account what happens to your product (that is, it ignores all external factors). These diagrams can help designers quickly gauge the effectiveness of the process required to achieve a user’s goal and can help determine the “how” of great ideas that you identified through brainstorming.

User Flow is usually based on the order of actions that the user must perform. UX Flow helps you understand whether all processes in the product have a logical end. By looking at it, the team can immediately understand what is the essence of the solution that the product offers.

User experience flows can be both linear (show a piece of user interaction with the product) and non-linear (they have decision points, paths, modes, and loops, with the help of which we illustrate all possible interactions with the product).

Typically in User Flow, we do not focus on the many possible levels of solution. The main task of the scripts is to show the process of interacting with the product.

The use of User Flows

Once again, in simple terms, UX Flow is the journey of the user through the application/software screens to an important goal.

You should use UX Flow for the following reasons:

  • First, User Flow focuses the team on the design of an intuitive interface with a clear sequence of steps to the goal. The shortest distance to the target is a straight line. User Experience Flow helps you stay on top of that line and drive the most effective design solution to meet your user goals.
  • Secondly, User Flow helps to assess whether the interface is suitable for solving the task at hand. Building UX flows engages the product development stream and encourages the team to ask questions about the following topics while developing a design solution: Are you able to focus on achieving your goals? Do you feel control over the movement towards the goal?
  • Thirdly, it helps to visually demonstrate to the team ideas for the development of the system. Collect a set of key application scenarios in User flow, link it with general navigation (menu) and show where a new route will appear in this map, or which of the existing Flows you want to refine and how exactly.

UX Flow is a visual tool for communicating ideas in a clear way that is easy to remember. And User Flow also helps to create a unified vision for the scenario of interaction with the product in a specific situation.

An example of UX flow for scanning a card in the money transfer system. Image credit: eleken.co

Steps to create

Here are basic steps you can use to create a UX flow:

  1. Learn your users. Before creating user flows it’s essential to do research and identify users’ main objectives, their expectations from the product, pain points, fears, and things that make users keep moving to the goal. Ideally, to understand your user, you should see how they behave in real life (conduct user interviews, user testing). 
  2. Think about what sequence of actions you expect the user to take to achieve their goal. When you understand who your users are, you can imagine what steps they will probably take. Such a plan of user’s actions may consist of a start-point (let us say “A-start”), the sequence of steps that are required to execute to reach the goal (1) (2) (3), and finally the goal itself (B-goal). Make the UX flow as clear as possible in order to ultimately show us the full picture of how the user interacts with the software/app.
  3. Visualize each step, block by block.  For this purpose, you can use ready-made libraries: User Flow for Miro or UX Flow for Figma. Such libraries are good as a basis, each designer develops a similar constructor to work out User Flow in a specific area. 

User Flow helps you focus on human-centered design and achieve the most comfortable and efficient route to your destination. They also add consistency to the team’s work and save time and money.

Pieces of advice when building UX flows

  • Think out a UX flow name
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Give your User Flow a name that will allow those who use it to understand its purpose from first sight. For example, you can call it “booking a flight for 2 people with check-in baggage”.

  • Let your flow move in one direction

Strive for simplicity: the shorter the line, the easier it is for your customers to complete the task and reach the goal. Try to avoid a complex multidirectional scenario.

  • One user objective per-flow

Define the main goal the user wants to achieve for each User Flow and order the actions the user has to complete on their way to this goal step by step, without any distractions. 

  • Add comments
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Everyone in the team will understand the scheme more clearly if you add some captions along the edge of the flow. So everyone can understand the purpose of each element on the chart.

  • Clearly identify the start point

A clear start point of a UX flow lets your team members quickly identify the whole user’s path from the very beginning till the end and this way easily 

  • Colors are important

In most cases, UX flows are monochrome. It’s because bright colors can disturb those who look at them, while dull colors allow your team to focus on what important features the product has and why the order of steps is made this way.

To sum up

Building User Experience Flows helps to guide design decisions, identify and eliminate issues the user may face even before the design stage of the product design process.  

And remember, when creating UX flow think of the easiest and shortest way the user can achieve their goal. This way the product you create will be consistent, intuitive, and user-friendly. 

Try creating a UX flow on your next project to feel its importance in practice.

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