User flow is the path taken by a prototypical user on a website or app to complete a task. The user flow starts at their entry point, like an onboarding screen or homepage, and ends with the final action or outcome, like purchasing a product or signing up for an account.
This process allows designers to evaluate and optimize the user experience and therefore increase client conversion rates.
User flows are often modeled as flow charts, and the flow differs depending on the type of website or app you are building. For example, typical user flow for an e-commerce site may look like this:
User opens the homepage
They then click on a category
They then click on a specific product
They add a product to cart
They check out and complete the purchase
This example is incredibly simplified. In reality, users may browse the category page a couple of times instead of going directly to the cart. However, the purpose of a user flow is to identify the most common navigational paths and highlight where they can be improved.
A user flow may be improved with a greater understanding of the customer’s wants and needs. It may also help to use paper prototypes and sort cards to rearrange an app or site’s navigation until it feels more intuitive. Keep exploring different flows until you hit on one that works.