It can be difficult to visualize how customers will use your website. This can make it impossible to know what path they will take to complete certain tasks. What steps are they taking through their checkout journey? How do they sign up for the new app?
It’s important to find the common path so you can make their customer journey easier. In this article, we will look at what a user flow is and how to conduct a user flow analysis.
A user flow analysis is a way to examine how users are interacting with a website or app. It can help you to understand any complications they may have. Using diagrams called a ‘user flow’, you can see specific customer paths and find ways to improve them.
User flow analysis usually involves applying tests to review the common user path to find out how well it works. A simple way to do this is to use a review and collaboration platform, such as Markup, Ziflow or Wipster. Each of these have their own specializations, depending on your project, and provide a real boost to your collaboration and review process.
You may have heard the term ‘user journey’, but not be familiar with a user flow. A user journey is a wider view of the whole customer experience. Whereas, a user flow is a detailed diagram showing the specific path a user takes to complete a task.
For example, a customer is looking for a web based phone service. Their user journey is their whole experience on the website. This could be from browsing the different web pages to choosing a plan. But an example of a user flow would be a step-by-step account of how they signed up for the mobile plan.
The path you plan out for potential customers may not necessarily be the one they take. But by conducting a user analysis you can find out the actual paths your users are taking and optimize them.
Customer behavior is constantly changing. So it is important to make adjustments to ensure your website or app meets their current needs.
Implementing effective security measures like privileged access management can help you ensure that your website or app meets their current needs and maintains the integrity of your user flow analysis.
The overall objective of a user flow analysis is to keep customer retention rates high. The only way to do this is by creating a positive customer experience. With advertising and marketing, it costs more to gain new customers, so you must ensure they are happy once they have chosen your website or app.
Before you conduct your user flow analysis you need to think about your aims and objectives. What do you hope to gain from your analysis? Maybe you want to find out why certain customers aren’t completing checkout.
Remember user flow follows the path of a specific task. You may want to create several user flows to analyze different paths. But focus on one at a time initially so you can track your progress efficiently.
This brings you to how you’re going to track your progress and measure your success. There are different metrics to consider depending on your objectives. Examples include:
Customer lifetime value
To create your user flow you need to know the source of your traffic. Any web analytics tool can show you where your traffic originates. This could be a search engine, email link, advertisement, or direct link.
Traffic from a direct or email link is likely to be returning customers. But a user from a search engine or advertisement is probably a new visitor. These two types of users would act differently, so the user flows will differ.
For example, the path for a returning customer wanting to download remote desktop for Mac could start with a clickthrough from an email link. A new customer may start with a link from an advert, which leads them to subscribe to emails. They would then join the returning customer’s path to download the software.
The next step is to create your user flow. A product analytics tool will allow you to see how users interact with your website or app and collect the data to create a diagram.
You can design your flowchart yourself, or alternatively, many analytics tools have a feature to do this for you. To help you choose the right analytics tool, consider whether it has the following:
A clear visualization of the path. The chart should show the conversions, churn, and sequence of actions of each of the user groups, as well as display the top paths.
The ability to build analytics based on URLs and custom events. A good markup for custom events, as well as URLs, will give a better detail of the paths.
Filters for segmentation. This will help you to analyze users' paths from a specific advertising campaign or of a specific age.
The ability to exclude events that are uninteresting for analytics (e.g., debug events), will simplify interpretation.
The ability to build a diagram not only by devices, but also by users. This means that the data will be more accurate because you will see the path of users and not just their devices.
The ability to share research results. Being able to upload data and graphs and share a link can make it much easier to share results and collaborate.
The most important thing to bear in mind when creating your user flow is what your user is seeing and what they are doing. Without both of these, you will not create a full picture to analyze. The more detailed you can make this diagram, the better. Then you must make sure it has a definitive end point.
Once you have created a comprehensive user flow chart you can begin to analyze it. When conducting a user flow analysis look at:
It may help you to make notes or annotate image representations of your user flow so you can identify steps that need improvements.
By now you will have identified the pain points and complexities in your flow. So the next step is to streamline your users' path to the objective. Each step should be simple and encourage users to continue to the next one.
The main factors that slow down user flow are:
Difficult checkout system
We’ve used OnlyDomains as an example to show how user flow has been streamlined.
Once you have made improvements to your user flow you need to test it. Look at how you track and measure your success. Your metrics will be a key indicator of whether your changes have improved your flow.
You should also test on actual users. First, identify your audience segments so your testers are within your target market. It’s important to test your website on all types of customers as each will use it differently. You may even be able to identify a segment you are not catering to.
You could ask returning customers to act as testers in return for a preview of products or a free trial. Alternatively, you can hire testers to follow the common path you have created and give feedback.
For example, imagine your website has an FAQ video that you see as an essential step in your customer journey. But users are skipping it. You can ask testers to review the whole customer journey but also to annotate video points to give you an idea of how to highlight its importance to users.
A user flow analysis isn’t something that only needs to be done once. It is important that you consistently analyze the paths your customers take through your website or app. Customer habits are constantly changing, so you need to keep up to date with changes.
When you are conducting your user flow analysis remember that your main goal is to find the common path users are taking to complete tasks on your website. Then you want to create the ideal flow to turn this common path into the happy path.
The happy path is one without bottlenecks or unnecessary complexities, such as difficulty checking out or a call-to-action button that is hard to find. You need to make your customer’s path easy by making each step seamless.
To identify the best way to do this you need to align their goals with your own. If they are looking for a product, and you can sell them this product, make it as easy as possible for them. Identifying the happy path will allow you to create better user experiences. It will also, hopefully, enable you to keep people on your site longer. End result? Better sales. Happy days.
Now you have all the information you need to create a user flow to conduct your analysis. Remember that this is an ongoing process that may take time to get right. Once you have created your ideal user flow you will need to make adjustments as your business evolves and customer behavior changes. This way, you’ll stay at the head of the tide.