The role of user flows
User flows can be hypothetical journeys based on data from an existing website or created from a user testing exercise prior to release. It is super important that any user flow is thoroughly tested and analysed to ensure its success. When things don’t quite go to plan, a UX designer can change a design layout, tweak messaging or redo that all important CTA. The exercise of user flow analysis is never really done as there is always room for improvement. Improving user flows helps pages viewed per session, conversions rates and overall brand engagement. Make it easy for your audience to find what they are looking for and they’ll reward you for it.
Why you need well-defined user flows
Designing beautiful user interfaces is one thing but making sure your audience sees them is another. People should be able to find their way around your website without relying on your main navigation, using on-page signposts and CTAs to fulfil their task.
Gone are the days of everyone entering your website on its home page, so defined user flows need to exist from every entrance point. And that can be a lot of working out. Every single page that is designed should fit into a master plan, not matter how simple or complex it may be.
User flows are also a great way for clients to understand the site’s architecture. From my experience, they are also super handy when developing technical specifications, explaining each bit of functionality a user ‘gets’ running through each individual flow.
How to improve user flows
Analysing each user flow gives UX designers an opportunity to evaluate what is and what is not working on a path to conversion. Analysing the data will show where people drop off/exit and ultimately provide the information needed for a UX designer to rethink, redesign and improve.
Correcting issues shouldn’t be a daunting task for a UX designer, it’s their job. They’ll often consider where to offer more information, more guidance and where to reduce distraction. Less is often more.
For example, analysis could have been done on an e-commerce site where a discovery has been made that a lot of visitors are proceeding to the basket but not completing their order. A bigger than expected percentage of people exit on the delivery option screen. This will identify that there is a problem and a hypothesis can be generated.
There could be many reasons why this is the case:
- Are the shipping costs too high?
- Are there too many options?
- Is it easy to understand and choose?
- Is there a technical issue preventing progression?
Often, A/B testing is used to determine what changes have the biggest impact. Here are a few case studies that prove the sheer power of A/B testing.
Tips to creating better user flows
There are many tools widely available for use in order to create your user flows. Flowmapp is very easy to use and allows the user to add images.
1. Break down large user flows
The larger the user flow, the harder they tend to be to follow. So, breaking down user flows into subflows is often necessary. For example, think of an e-commerce website that includes, user sign up, sign in, preferences, product browsing, checkout process, payment, etc. This flow could consist of so many screens that it becomes difficult for the most seasoned UX designer to get their head around.
2. Use meaningful labels
First of all, make sure the title of the user flow describes exactly what the flow represents. Get a colleague to read the title and tell you what the flow chart is about if you aren’t quite sure. With the remaining labels, make sure that they give enough information so that each category is easily distinguishable.
3. Choose colours wisely
Using colour in a user flow should help the audience identify and group resources. A wide range of colours that have no purpose is unnecessary and just make it more confusing to the person trying to understand the flow.
4. Consistency in the visual structure
Keeping the visual structure consistent throughout helps ensure that your user flows are easy to follow and don’t become confusing. For example, shapes should be kept the same for a dedicated element.
5. Consider readability
User flows include several variables that a team will need to consider in the design, which is why it is important that it is easy to understand. Presenting the data from left to right, and top to bottom will help smooth out the reading process as it will ensure that data is presented in a logical way.
Creating a well-defined user flow shouldn’t be underestimated. They will give a team that little extra help needed to optimise a project’s UX.
Any questions or comments? Get in touch today. We’d love to answer them.