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Often mistaken for customer journeys, user flows are an essential element of a successful digital product strategy.

They are instrumental in helping you understand how users interact with your website or apps. But that’s not where their benefits end. 

In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into user flows, and here’s what we'll cover: 

  • An explanation of what a user flow is

  • A dissection of a user flow’s components

  • When it’s best to start creating a user flow

  • A step-by-step guide explaining how to create a user flow

  • Some simplified examples of user flows in different scenarios

  • The difference between user flows, task flows, and user journeys

  • How to improve user flows and how Eppo helps

Let’s get started. 

What is a user flow?

A user flow is a roadmap that outlines the steps a user takes to achieve a specific goal within a website or app. Think of it as creating a detailed itinerary for a traveler to follow, ensuring they visit all the important landmarks and have a smooth journey from start to finish.

Why would you design this roadmap then? 

User flows serve a crucial purpose in product development. They're about understanding what users do, but also why they take certain paths. This insight lets product teams design experiences that have a more appealing look and feel. 

When a user can effortlessly complete their task — whether it's making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or finding a piece of information — they're more likely to enjoy the experience and return for more.

Which are the components of a user flow?

To understand how user flows work, let's break them down into their building blocks. These components are the key ingredients that, when combined, paint a detailed picture of how users flow through your website or app: 

  • Entry points: This is where the user’s first contact with your brand happens. It could be the homepage of a website, a landing page from an ad, or even a specific screen within a mobile app. Understanding all the potential places users might start is vital.

  • Steps and actions: These are the specific interactions users have within the product. Clicking a button, filling out a form, viewing a product page — each of these actions is a step in the user's path.

  • Decision points: These are the moments where users have to make a choice. Should they add an item to their cart? Do they want to sign up for a newsletter? These decisions create branches in the user flow, leading to different paths users might take.

  • Exit points: This marks the end of the user's interaction within the specific flow you're mapping. It could be the completion of a purchase, closing the app, or even abandoning the process altogether.

By charting out these components, product teams can gain a clearer picture of how users navigate their creations. 

When should you create a user flow?

The ideal time to create a user flow is early in the design process, ideally right after conducting user research. This early-bird approach lets you spot and fix potential issues before you get too far into the design weeds. 

However, user flows aren't just for new products — they're valuable tools throughout a product's entire lifecycle.

Here are some key scenarios when creating a user flow can make a real difference:

  • New feature development: Before building a new feature, a user flow helps to ensure it aligns with user needs and fits seamlessly into the existing product.

  • Website or app redesign: When revamping a product, user flows help identify areas where the current experience might be clunky or inefficient.

  • Communication and alignment: User flows serve as a visual aid to communicate design plans with stakeholders and confirm everyone is on the same page.

A step-by-step guide to creating a user flow

Crafting a user flow might seem daunting, but by following these steps, you'll be well on your way to mapping out smooth and effective experiences. 

1. Understand your users

Before you start drawing lines and boxes, you need to know who you're designing for. Create detailed user personas that represent your target audience. What are their goals? What motivates them? What frustrates them?

You should also develop experience maps that outline every interaction users have with your company, from the first time they hear about your product to becoming loyal customers. This big-picture view will help you pinpoint key moments and pain points in the user experience.

2. Define the scope of your user flow

Clearly outline the task the user flow will cover in advance. This could be anything from signing up for an account to making a purchase or completing a specific task within your app. By clearly defining the task, you'll be able to create a flow that is focused and efficient.

3. Map out the flow

Use flowchart tools like Figma, Miro, or LucidChart to create a visual representation. Start with the entry point, outline each step the user takes, every decision they encounter, and all possible exit points. 

Use shapes like ovals (start/end), rectangles (actions), diamonds (decisions), and arrows to connect them. Don’t forget to consider alternative paths users might take to complete the task.

4. Add any specific details 

Enrich your user flow with key details. Include the content on each page or screen, navigation options, interactive elements, and the actions users need to take.

Take the time to highlight any potential obstacles or areas where users might get stuck (e.g., unclear instructions, or too many form fields).

5. Review and iterate

The final step is to present your user flow to team members and stakeholders. Gather feedback and use it to refine your design. Identify bottlenecks, points of confusion, or opportunities for simplification. Iterate on the flow until it's as smooth and intuitive as possible.

Examples of user flows

Let's take a look at a few real-world scenarios where user flows are put into action.

E-commerce purchase flow

  1. Homepage: The user arrives at the online store's homepage.

  2. Category page: They browse through product categories, perhaps clicking on "Electronics" or "Clothing."

  3. Product page: The user finds a product they like and clicks to learn more.

  4. Add to cart: Satisfied with the product, they click "Add to Cart."

  5. Checkout: The user proceeds to the checkout page, where they enter shipping and payment details.

  6. Purchase confirmation: After reviewing their order, they click "Place Order," completing the purchase.

App onboarding flow

  1. App launch: The user opens the app for the first time.

  2. Welcome screens: They see a series of screens highlighting the app's key features and benefits.

  3. Account creation/login: The user creates a new account or logs in with existing credentials.

  4. Profile setup: They customize their profile (optional, depending on the app).

  5. Main features: The user starts exploring and using the app's core functions.

Subscription sign-up flow

  1. Pricing page: The user visits the pricing page to see the different subscription options.

  2. Plan selection: They choose the plan that best suits their needs.

  3. Payment details: The user enters their payment information.

  4. Confirmation: They review the details and confirm their subscription.

  5. Welcome email: The user receives a welcome email with account details and instructions on how to get started.

These are just a few simplified examples, but they reveal the core idea of a user flow: A visual representation of the steps a user takes to complete a task within a digital product. 

Differences between user flows, task flows, and user journeys

While user flows, task flows, and user journeys all contribute to understanding user behavior, they each serve a distinct purpose and offer different levels of detail. Let's break down their differences:

User flows

Think of a user flow as a map for a specific journey within a digital product. It outlines the steps a user takes to complete a single task, like making a purchase or signing up for an account. It shows the various paths users can take, including decision points and potential exits. 

Task flows

Task flows zoom in even further. They focus on a single, linear path a user follows to complete a specific action, such as filling out a form. 

Unlike user flows, task flows don't typically branch out or include decision points. They help understand the nitty-gritty details of how users interact with specific elements within your product.

User journeys

User journeys, also known as customer journeys, take the broadest view. They encompass the entire experience a user has with a product or company, from initial awareness to ongoing engagement. 

User journeys often include touchpoints outside the product itself, such as marketing emails and customer support interactions. They help visualize the emotional highs and lows users experience throughout their relationship with your brand.

How to improve user flows

Creating a user flow is just the beginning. The journey towards an optimal user experience is ongoing, requiring constant refinement. Here's how to ensure your user flows continue to meet the needs of your users:

  • Identify pain points: Analyze user data to pinpoint areas where users drop off, encounter difficulties, or abandon tasks. These are your opportunities for improvement.

  • Hypothesize solutions: Brainstorm potential solutions to address the identified pain points. Consider changes to layout, navigation, instructions, or the overall process flow.

  • A/B test: Implement different versions of your user flow and use A/B testing to compare their performance. Measure metrics like task completion rates, time on task, and user satisfaction.

  • Iterate: Based on the results of your testing and user feedback, refine your user flow. Continuously monitor user behavior and iterate to ensure your flow remains effective and user-friendly as your product evolves.

Next steps

Now that you understand the importance of user flows and how to create them, let's explore how a tool like Eppo can transform your approach to optimizing user experiences.

A common challenge organizations face is deciphering the why behind user drop-offs — those frustrating "leaks" in their carefully crafted user flows. These leaks can leave teams scratching their heads, unsure of what's causing users to abandon their journey.

That's where an experimentation and feature management platform like Eppo steps in. 

Eppo's sophisticated A/B testing capabilities empower you to experiment with different variations of your user flow, ensuring that your changes have a real, measurable impact on user behavior. 

With Eppo, you can confidently test new ideas, validate hypotheses, and continuously improve your user flows based on solid data.

Here's how Eppo goes beyond basic A/B testing to unlock the full potential of your user flows:

  • Data you can trust: Eppo integrates with your existing data warehouse, ensuring you have accurate, consistent data that aligns with your organization's single source of truth. This base of reliable data lets you make confident decisions to improve your user flows.

  • Measure impact, not just features: Eppo helps you tie user flow improvements directly to tangible business metrics like revenue, conversion rates, and user retention. You can also encourage cross-team collaboration thanks to Eppo’s reporting

  • Build an experimentation culture: Eppo's intuitive interface and emphasis on statistical rigor make it easy for teams to embrace a data-driven approach to user flow optimization. This leads to more impactful decisions when it comes to tweaking your user flows. 

Ready to discover how Eppo can help you make the most out of your user flow data? Book a demo and explore Eppo.

Learn what user flows are and how they can improve your product's UX. Discover examples, creation steps, and optimization tips.

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