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User Experience, Responsive Web Design and similar terms have made such a serious impact on the lives of web designers that they have almost forgotten the core of website design – User Flow. I hope that we, the web designers, remember that website design is not just about “how it looks” but also about “how it works”! It is easy to get sentimental with your passion – website design – which forces you to jump right into the website design phase without considering the end user expectations. Website designers concentrate so much on the information architecture of a website that they tend to forget the user flows that are the basis of all conversions benefiting the website. We can either give up on end user just for the look (and all other silly adjectives) of our website or start giving priority to User Flows in order to increase the returns from the website.
So, once you have made up your mind that you will break the shackles of information architecture, aesthetic looks, user experience, responsive design and other silly terms then you can start reading further. It is time to design user flows.
Oh please! Can we have a new sub-heading?
Actually, I know that “Know Your Goal” thing is an obvious subheading to start with but it fits well in this scenario. See, you cannot start designing user flows unless you know what you are going to design for. This is when it becomes important for designers to sit with their client and understand the basic purpose of the overall design. Are they looking for sales or are they looking for a page which they can get the visitors to sign up for their email list?
See, web designers must understand that the questions mentioned below aren’t the reason why you are designing a website:
Clients might target positive answers to these questions but sooner or later they will understand that their positive reactions are good for nothing. At the end of the day conversions matter for any website and if the new design isn’t bringing in conversions (in whatever beneficial format) then the newness of the website is worthless.
Henceforth, next time when you have a website design project, think of the user flow which is going to benefit the overall design. Two major pointers that will help you keep a check on actual user flow and how to design for them are:
We are discussing the importance of User Flow for a website henceforth it has to be the user who will make or break the website. The job of the website designer is to understand the users and their requirements. One needs to start with a detailed study of every possible website requirement and the kind of final product that the client is expecting. Some of the example user objectives to get you started are:
Now, the hidden business objectives for which clients would want to launch a website that covers such user based requirements will be:
A website designer who clearly understands the requirement of both parties (user and end client) will have a sure advantage over those designers who aren’t putting importance on user flow.
User Flow is a state diagram of sorts which defines the path that the user will follow when it visits a particular website. We must understand the initial point from where the user starts and where their should end. It is these two points between which the website designer will have to carve his own space that will give the requisite comfort to the user.
Typical mediums via which a user can enter your website are:
When designing User Flow it is important to understand that detailed analysis of the requirements is a must. In order to get a clear picture of what users will be looking for, web designers must conduct in-depth interviews of their customers. Look, anybody can collect information that is nothing but speculation, but that is not how a website user flow is designed. Making stuff up as you go will take you nowhere.
So, take a printout of the following questions and add a few more from of your own. Then start answering each of them in as much detail as possible:
I have always preached about being “Crystal Clear”. No matter what we are up to, we must understand the importance of Crystal Clear Information. I agree that most of us are here to earn a fortune and we are all very much determined to do anything that will help us reach that goal, but this should not mean that we start deceiving the end user just for a few extra dollars.
The purpose of User Flow is to fill in the gaps that are left while designing a website. This is done by following a detailed User Flow which covers every small pointer that concerns the user. See, the goal of a website designer is to shape the thought process of the user in a manner that they are determined to perform the action for which the website was designed. It is about optimizing every step which the user will perform in order to sell your product. Below pointers will help you shape the thought process of the user:
User Flow is a science in itself and it cannot be mastered after reading just a couple of guides. It is a time-consuming process and requires web designer’s diligence to reap positive results. Below, we present you with more guides that can help you approach User Flow in a smarter fashions:
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Salman Siddiqui is an alpha geek, design guru and seasoned WordPress critic. Writing, for him, started out of ego but it has become the most luring and enlightening career option of his life. He is walking that extra mile for his freelancing dream.