What Is User Flow?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover the benefits of considering user flow in the user experience design process and the difference between user design and user journey.

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User flow is a way for user experience (UX) designers to understand how users will interact with or navigate through their product, such as a website or mobile app. Discover the benefits of user flow and the difference between user flow and user journey.

What Is User Flow?

User flow refers to all the possible paths users might use while interacting with a website, application, or other product to get to a successful outcome. For example, when a user visits your website, they will navigate through it to find what they are looking for. They could do so by clicking buttons, following links, or interacting with the products in some other way. 

Each user interacting with your product will have unique goals and follow their own paths to accomplish them. A user flow visualizes the total paths that users will take when completing a task on your product.

UX designers use user flow to gain insight into how to make it easier for customers to use the product the way they want to. User flow helps designers anticipate obstacles that customers might face and smooth the customer’s journey. Other benefits of user flow include:

  • Better user experience: User flow helps you design with the user experience in mind.

  • More intuitive products: Thinking about the steps your customers will take to navigate your product helps you create products that are easier to understand from the customer’s point of view.

  • Communicate with stakeholders: User flow charts and diagrams can help demonstrate how customers use the product to senior leadership and other stakeholders.

User flow vs. user journey

User flow and user journey are similar concepts, but have different uses and cover different areas of user experience design. User flow refers to navigating or interacting with a specific product for a specific task. User journey, on the other hand, refers to the complete process and interaction a customer has with your product in a given scenario. For example, it may involve the first time they learn about the product to eventually use or purchase the product.

User journey often stretches across channels and measures different touch points between the company and the customer, as well as the customer’s experiences along the way. User journey is a more complex process than user flow and often involves a specific user persona. 

Related terms

Learn more about user flow

If you’re ready to take the next step and learn how user flow and user experience design can help you build better projects, consider a course on Coursera. The Google UX Design Professional Certificate is a seven-course, beginner-level series that teaches skills such as user experience research, wireframe, prototypes, user experience design, usability testing, and UX design jobs. Learn marketable skills in as little as six months.

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