User flows

User Flows are a really useful exercise to conduct before progressing with any high fidelity wireframes, as they help all project stakeholders as well as the development team to understand how the user experience will fit together.

Planning how the user will navigate

Every user flow is different depending on the context of the project; however, they are usually structured between an entry point like onboarding screen and an exit point whereby the goal has been achieved.

Within this structure, there is a series of actions as well as decisions points whereby the user’s goals may vary. User flows help understand all the possible routes which the user may take to arrive at their end goal, as well as recognise that all users might not perform tasks the same and may navigate through the interface in different ways. A visual representation of the flow ensures all possibilities have been fully thoroughly considered from a user, business and technical perspective.

Each card within a user flow will typically include the name of the screen, a mini-wireframe showing the type of screen the user will see, a description of what will be on each screen, and any associated imagery attached.

Useful for business stakeholders & developers

User flows bridge the gap between gathered data in research and business analysis to synthesise that data into a format of a detailed flowmap which can be used by designers, developers and business stakeholders to understand what is being proposed.

Detailed user flows are important deliverables which can help justify decisions such as the number of screens, the order of the content and the general navigation through the experience.

Clear hierarchical and logical structure

Research up to this point may have provided a clear design direction, as well as an understanding of the features needed to fulfil the user’s end goal. However, one of the most complicated procedures can be to input these features into the product, in a manner which will successfully enhance user experience.

User flows provide a clear hierarchical and logical structure where features are compiled into an organised format. Before progressing with the UX design process, the user flow should be fully resolved as it will play an important part of the foundation for the rest of the project.

User Flows are a very helpful exercise to go through before progressing with any designs, as they help the business stakeholders and developers understand how the web/mobile/interactive experience will all fit together.

Please get in touch, if you are looking for a company to help with gathering your requirements and starting to map these out into User Flows.

“User Flows help to map out the project at a high level effectively producing a visual spec of all the screens we will be creating with the necessary detail added via annotations.”

Some questions you might have

How will user flows benefit my project?

User flows are essential on any large or complex web platform or application as they explore the hierarchical structure ensuring the screens are in the correct order and flow as well as ranking the features in order of priority on each screen (via annotations). User flows are very easily altered and allow you to explore many different avenues and navigation possibilities before you focus on higher fidelity page wireframes. User flows are extremely helpful for both developers, UI designers and business stakeholders as they provide a detailed map of how everything fits together.

How do I begin a user flow?

It is useful to set yourself an entry and exit point to design the flow around. The entry point will be the start of the journey for example a log-in page, and the exit point will be when the goal is accomplished, like confirmation of a booking. You then should take time to imagine the steps it would take to get from the entry point to the exit point. It is best to start with simple headings which flow in chronological order, then you can start imagining the screens and features after.

What is the difference between user journey and user flow?

Although they are commonly confused, it is important to understand the difference between a user journey and user flow. User journeys depict the entire journey of the user’s interaction with a device, however user flows look into the path through the device the user takes to navigate from start to finish and accomplish their goals.

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