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Design process

UX Flow and Its Importance for the Design Process

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17 Jun

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2021

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Functionality is crucial. But a seamless and intuitive user experience often determines the success of a product. This is where the significance of User Experience (UX) flows comes into play.

Imagine having a feature-rich application meticulously designed to address user needs. Yet, if the journey within the app involves a labyrinthine sign-up process, confusing navigation, or any other user experience hiccup, your audience might turn to competitors. As a UI/UX design company, we understand firsthand the critical role of optimizing user paths. One effective way to achieve this is through a well-crafted UX flow.

For example, simplifying the user flow helped us eliminate the problem of visitors who didn't convert to users when we were working on Handprinter, a unique startup aiming to heal the planet.

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User Flow example
Example of a user flow created by Eleken for Handprinter

This article delves into the essence of UX flows, their integral role in the product design process, various types, and examples. By the end, you'll grasp what user flows are and why they are indispensable for delivering exceptional digital experiences. So, let's get down to business.

What is user flow in UX? (or “Build your product with your users in mind”)

Starting to create an information architecture for your future product right away without building any strategy is not the best idea. To ensure customers have a positive impression of the product, designers should focus on their needs. This means understanding how to create the best algorithm for performing tasks for a particular user.

The easier it is for the client to move along their path when completing a task, the more pleasant it is for them to interact with your website or application. And that means you are more likely to provide a great user experience.

UX flow is a diagram that shows the path a user goes through when using your product from the start point to the final interaction.

You can have many user flows as a part of a single project, as there are a lot of different objectives for a person who uses your service/app. Some can be rather complex (become a member of your product), while others can be directed at one specific task (watch a video). 

Let's look at the example of a UX flow to understand the above definition better.

task flow example
Image credits

This UX design flow represents the path the user has to take when they start using the app. We can see the entry point "View app start page" and all possible steps users must take to reach their final destination, "View dashboard."

This visual representation of the sign-up process allows designers to assess the product's ease of use and, if needed, optimize the user experience.

The use of user flows for UX design

As you may have already understood from the content above, the main advantage of user flow diagrams for UX design is the ability to improve the user experience (which, in turn, leads to an increase in the probability of a user purchasing or signing up for the product). 

But it is not the only benefit we can mention here:

#1. Product visualization 

UX flows are an easy and fast way to visualize the process. With their help, you may quickly illustrate all the tasks without needing any special UX user flow tools (you can build the diagram in any design application you use, like Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD).

Figma new file

This design deliverable is clear for everyone (stakeholders, clients, team members) as it looks like blocks and arrows. Moreover, you can build user flows even before you design the product's user interface to make the UI more thoughtful and logical.

#2. Learning your audience

The basis of the whole interaction of the user with the product is to complete a certain task (find some info, book a room, and so on). Creating the user experience process flow from the user's standpoint lets you focus on user tasks, considering their true goals and experience. User flows in UX design help us to keep in mind that we solve real problems of real people.

#3. Eliminating malfunctions

Most challenges that occur when developing a website/app are connected with users who can't successfully reach their goals. A well-thought-out UX flow helps identify and eliminate the bottlenecks, pain points, and steps that may confuse clients and cause problems on their way to completing the task.

Flow diagrams help to identify problem areas in the existing design as well. Building UX flow for products already on the market allows us to see what works well and needs improvement. This way, you can think of alternative options for users to accomplish their tasks faster and more efficiently.

improving the existing design with the help of the UX flow
Image credit

#4. Improving communication

It is challenging to communicate your ideas in a way that is understandable to everyone. UX flows allow you to present the scope of work, challenges, tasks, and goals your team members must handle when creating a design solution.

Place of user flow in a product design process

the place of user flow in the product design process

User flows are helpful for everything from interface design to information architecture and usability testing. In the early stages of the UX process, it can help you formulate and visualize the ideas before you create high-fidelity mockups, wireframes, and prototypes.

At Eleken, we build user flows as a part of our UX strategy stage of the UI/UX design process. It helps us to align the product vision with user needs. So, when talking about the place of user flow in a design process, we create them after we've done all the needed research about the market, competitors, and target audience. When you have information about your users, UX flow helps you determine the number and order of screens that the product should contain.

Finally, remember that product design is not a linear process, so you can go back to user flows at any point, revise, and improve them to provide the best possible user experience for the clients.

Types of UX flows

There are a bunch of different types of UX flows. Some are simple and look like labels, and some are based on wireframes with text. Let's dive into more details with user flow UX examples.

Flowchart

flowchart example
Image credit

A flowchart is a diagram representing the order of steps the user takes to perform a process when interacting with the product. They may represent the whole experience or just a piece of it.

Flowcharts are easy to build as there are certain rules for depicting them.

how to build a flow chart? symbols and their explanation
Image credit: Pinterest

Task Flow

Task flow represents the user's actions when they complete a specific task. Usually, task flows illustrate only one path without multiple ways.

Task flows are used in UX design when you think all clients will take the same sequence of steps.

task flow example
Image credit: Medium

The distinctive feature of a task flow is that it is often small and linear. They do not illustrate the difficulties that users may face (for example, the image above doesn't show what will happen if no result is found).

Wire flow

wire flow example
Image credit

To define a Wire flow, we should understand what the wireframe is. A wireframe is a page layout that illustrates the design elements on each page and the way they are connected with each other.

In turn, a Wire flow is a combination of a wireframe and user flow. Instead of blocks with information, we see the visualization of screens customers interact with on their way to completing the goal.

Wire flows are especially useful for developing mobile apps (because of the small screen size).

Screen Flow

Screen flows feature high-fidelity screens that are actually page layouts of the finished application. They are highly detailed and represent a future product's real size and look.

It allows both clients and team members to feel the size and complexity of a website/app.

screen flow example
Example of a screen flow designed by Eleken for Findo, money transfer system

Sitemap

The sitemap shows the hierarchy of the website's structure. Sitemaps help designers to organize and prioritize the content and functionality of the product.

Take a look at the sitemap we created for Abode. We wanted to understand better what the Abode website lacked in terms of user experience. Our goal was also not to overload users with too much technical info that could distract them from their main goal. To visualize the structure in a clear way, we created the following sitemap:

sitemap example

What do I need to create a UX flow?

Here are the main steps that outline the process of creating UX flows.

  • Conduct customer research. Do research to learn who your target audience is, their goals, and what steps they need to go through to achieve their goal. This information will help to make your UX process flow smoothly and logically.
  • Create a title for your user flow. The title should explain the user's objective (for example, "creating an account" or "resetting the password").
  • Reduce the number of steps to the fewest possible. The simpler the process, the better the user experience. If the user path is too long, try to break it down into several smaller tasks.
  • Design each step. Depending on the type of UX flow you choose, it can be a block with few words or a wireframe.
  • Add description. To better understand what the user is supposed to do at each step, you may add short explanations below each block.
  • Evaluate and refine. Check if your user flow satisfies customers' needs and helps them fulfill the task in the shortest way possible. Think if there are any points where the user may have doubts or be confused about how to complete the task. Remember, there is no limit to making improvements.

Do I really need a UX flow?

If, after reading the whole article, you still hesitate if you need a UX flow, here are some key takeaways about the benefits of this design deliverable:

  • It is an easy way to present the whole process of interaction with the app.
  • User experience flows help to shape the strategy and create an intuitive information architecture.
  • With the help of flows, you won't forget to create some mockups.
  • UX flows increase the probability customers will buy/subscribe to your product.

Conclusion

In the intricate realm of UX design, where user satisfaction is the ultimate goal, the role of UX flows stands as a guiding beacon. As we've navigated through the importance, types, and benefits of UX flows, it becomes evident that these visual representations are not just diagrams. They are strategic tools that shape user interactions.

Remember, the journey within your digital product should be seamless, intuitive, and enjoyable for users. User flows act as a blueprint, ensuring a clear path from start to finish. Whether simplifying sign-up processes or streamlining complex tasks, the impact of a well-crafted UX flow is profound.

As you embark on your design endeavors, consider integrating UX flows into your process early on. At Eleken, we understand the transformative power of user-centric design. And our dedicated product designers are here to assist you. If you're ready to elevate your product's user experience, reach out to us for insights, collaboration, and a design approach that puts your users front and center. Drop us a line and let's shape exceptional digital experiences together!

Kateryna Mayka

Writer at Eleken