Product Design
February 6, 2024

How to prepare best User-Flows for your digital product.

Find out about the user flows and why they matter for your digital product.

Introduction: What is a User-Flow and Why Does It Matter?

A user flow is a diagram that shows the path a user will take through the application(web or mobile) to achieve a certain goal. The goal of each user flow is specified by a product designer in anticipation of the user's needs. User flows can be created at any stage of the design phase but it’s best to do them at the start because a proper understanding of a user will then help determine the rest of the process and deliveries like information architecture, wireframes, and prototyping. 

User flow example by Dhruv

A user flow is also a graphic visualization representing the sequence of steps, decisions, and actions users perform while navigating a digital product, app, or website.

At the start, product designers typically focus on one task or goal at a time, such as an onboarding sequence or eCommerce checkout. In the design phase, designers build prototypes of these user flows to test the user experience with usability participants and stakeholders, iterating on feedback until they have a product ready to pass to another stage, that is development. In many cases, good user flows can be copied from already existing applications or huge startups mitigating the need for a full team of designers. One experienced person, a User Experience specialist, is enough.  

User flows vs user journeys(or user stories)

These are getting mixed up a lot but they are in most cases the same. The biggest difference that we should take into account is between user flow and user story. 

Why could it take a bit? If you are wondering why a product designer spends time mapping out all even small decision-making flows, let’s list a few benefits of building flow charts:

  • User flow is an effective method to develop a user-oriented software application design. If you have a neatly built website, but no user sign-ups, there is a chance you have not designed it according to your users’ goals.
  • User flows better help your application designers and developers understand the complexities of software applications. 
  • A simple and complete user flow leads to a better user experience that ultimately drives your customer conversion rate and business revenue.

Why does it matter? According to web design research by GoodFirms, 61.5% of participant designers believed bad navigation is among the top reasons that cause users to leave a website or an application. 38.5% of designers consider an outdated design, and 34.6% consider bad content structure major reasons for users leaving a website. 

Summarising, bad user flow = bad navigation = fewer users = less profitability.

A user story is an informal, general explanation of a software feature written from the perspective of the end user or customer. The purpose of a user story is to articulate how a piece of work will deliver a particular value back to the customer. As you can see on the example below, they are totally different but one derives from the other. 

3-Level Story Map (User Activates > User Tasks > User Stories) by Visual Paradigm

Steps to Create a Winning User Flow for a Digital Product

Creating effective user flows for digital products involves understanding the target audience, the goals of the product, and how users will interact with the product. Here are some steps to help you prepare the best user flows for your digital product(if you are a designer, if not it will help you understand your designer):

  1. Define the user personas: Develop a clear understanding of your target audience and their needs, goals, and behaviours. This will help you create user flows that are tailored to the needs of your users.
  2. Map out the user journey: Identify the key steps that a user will take when interacting with your product. This may involve creating a diagram that outlines the sequence of pages, actions, and decisions that a user will make.
  3. Use wireframes or prototypes: Create wireframes or prototypes to test your user flow and identify any potential issues. This can help you refine your user flows and ensure that they are easy to use and understand.
  4. Optimise for user experience: Ensure that your user flows are designed with the user experience in mind. This means considering factors such as usability, accessibility, and clarity of communication.
  5. Iterate and refine: Continuously test and refine your user flows based on user feedback and data. This will help you identify areas for improvement and ensure that your digital product is easy to use and meets the needs of your users.

Types of User Flows

Here are seven common user flow categories. Product designers can add these distinctions for user flows.

  • Task flows(Main User Flows) - Task flows visualise the steps users must follow to complete a specific task. These flows focus on sequential user actions and decision points, often visualized using a flowchart. 
  • Onboarding flows - Onboarding flows allow designers to visualize the product's initial setup and introduction. These flows incorporate account creation, tutorials, feature highlights, and personalization options to familiarize users and get them started quickly.
  • Conversion flows - Conversion flows are crucial for generating revenue and growth. These flows represent the steps toward a desired action or outcome–for example, newsletter signups, purchases, plan upgrades, etc. Designers typically aim to minimize friction and distractions for these flows to maximize conversion rates, upsells, and other revenue-generating activities.
  • Navigation flows - Navigation flows outline the structure and architecture of a digital product. These visualizations help understand how users move between screens, sections, and features. They can use these insights to prioritize features and content so users can find things faster and complete tasks more efficiently satisfying business requirements. 
  • Account management flows - Users often need to update account information like addresses, passwords, billing details, app preferences, subscriptions, etc.
  • Offboarding flows - Offboarding flows to guide users through discontinuing a product or service, like cancelling a subscription or deleting their account. 
  • Error flows - Error flows allow simulating/testing issues and designing solutions to fix them. Designers can use these insights to eliminate errors from occurring and create appropriate feedback for users to correct problems(like popups, tooltips, specific texts, etc.).

Best website for live user flow examples - a website showcasing user flow examples from all of the most popular websites on the web. What’s most important to remember is that they are showing those examples as for an end-user so we see a final website with fully developed UI(and UX on “the back”) and not a diagram with arrows, lines, triangles, or squares.  

The website requires a registration/login, but we found some publicly accessible examples:

  1. Wonder Weeks Mobile App - Onboarding 
  2. Netflix - Onboarding
  3. Writesonic - Searching 

Tools & Resources to Help Create the Best User Flows for Your Digital Product

  • Figma - Recently introduced FigJam type of board specifically for creating diagrams and user flows. Figma has a large community support where you can find examples of other designers. 
  • Google Drawings - Create diagrams and charts, for free; all within Google Docs.
  • Lucidchart - An online tool for creating diagrams, flow charts, sitemaps, and more.
  • - A free online diagram software for making flowcharts, process diagrams, org charts, UML, ER, and network diagrams.
  • Flowmapp - An online tool for creating sitemaps and user flows that helps you to effectively design and plan user experience.
  • MindNode - A mind-mapping app that makes brainstorming simple and easy.
  • NinjaMock - Wireframe and user flow online tool. Link your views and create a logic flow prototype. All with freehand visual style.
  • OmniGraffle - A diagramming and digital illustration application for macOS and iOS.
  • Overflow - Turn your designs into playable user flow diagrams that tell a story.
  • Whimsical - Easy to create flow charts, wireframes, and sticky notes.
  • Miro - Similar to Whimsical, but also has a nice community support called Miroverse. 
  • Sketch - UI and flow design with interactive state machines.
  • WebSequenceDiagrams - A simple web app to work out object interactions arranged in time sequence.
  • Wireflow -Free, online, and open-source tool for creating beautiful user flow prototypes.

More about the tools on UX Tools


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