As we know, outstanding results are the main goal of any product in Software Development. In this scenario, User Workflow approaches users' decisions impacting sites or applications. There are different routes for users to interact with digital products. Here, Workflows handle written or digitized visual representations. As a result, Workflow Engines are crucial to achieving better process management.
This process involves research and study from both designers and developers. Here, we'll explain User Workflow, Workflow Diagrams, and their influence on UX Design. Are you ready for it?
What is User Workflow?
The definition of User Workflow encloses the users' paths on a website or application. Often, users are prototypical and aim to complete a specific task. Due to it, flows are in charge of guiding users through a series of steps. In all cases, the purpose is to achieve the desired outcome. Thus, it's fundamental to understanding users' needs and wants. With this approach, it's possible to reconcile flows with design and development. Also, there are some questions to consider in user workflows:
● What are the users' goals?
● What inspires trust in users?
● Which are the most important aspects for users?
● Is there any extra information needed to perform tasks?
● Are there any doubts or limitations to completing said tasks?
Answers will define the final design and development. Also, these answers will influence the product's content. For instance, an informative blog will not have the same flow as a sales website. Ultimately, a website or application's presentation depends on its goal.
What are Flows in UX Design?
In UX, a flow defines users' paths when using a product. In a few words, it's the mapping of routes that users choose from the first input to the last interaction. The concept of flow within UX design arises with psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Considered the father of flow, he established those as a mental focus on specific tasks.
Through these flows, designers nowadays understand users' cognitive patterns. With user flows, designers determine, for a start, how many screens to place. Other elements include its order and its components. Also, empathy mapping and affinity diagrams can improve the experience on existing interfaces. With this data, product outcomes follow specific flow patterns. Due to this, planning flow can ease processes and task completion.
Creating detailed user flows helps teams' decision-making on design. Yet, these designs are subject to changes and revisions. After launching, there are always opportunities to improve users' processes and journeys.
What are the Main Types of Workflows?
User Workflows include a series of activities to make up a process. In this sense, diagrammed flows help optimize visualization and management. Among the primary types of workflows, there are:
These are graphics that allow moving among steps in an advanced way. Here, each stage depends on the completion of its previous actions. Only after following a chain of steps of the sequential workflow is the process complete.
State Machine Workflow
This type of flow progresses from one state to another. Activities here "come and go," which can make it more complicated. For instance, state machine workflow is comparable to solving a puzzle. Its specific usefulness lies in creative elements and extra reviews.
Rule-Driven follows the Sequential one guidelines. Also, it contemplates the rules that arise during the process. It's ideal when managing projects with different and defined objectives. In this context, the flow adapts to different work modalities and rules.
How to Improve User Workflows?
There are different aspects to notice when improving user workflows. This section will cover some edges to consider to guarantee smooth user journeys and experiences.
User Workflow Process
Defining user workflow examples can be seen as straightforward. Yet, the results of user flows are different depending on each case. To place an easy-to-understand example, we'll use an eCommerce website. These tend to have a typical user flow or a predictable one. In this case, the typical flow would be:
1. Accessing the site.
2. Choosing a specific product.
3. Adding it to the shopping cart.
4. Filling the required fields.
5. Completing the purchase.
This example can be an easy-to-understand. But, in reality, users can make other stops before making a sale. For example, users could return to previous pages and look for different products. Also, a user could access the site through a search engine after searching for the product itself. In this scenario, the first contact with the site is via another page rather than the home page. Today, users take many routes to access their needs. As a result, the outcomes have not-thought and undefined variables. When taking these scenarios into account, workflows gain particular relevance.
User Workflow Hypotheses
It's essential to recollect data after each user flow. This technique allows evaluation of the processes users go through in any sales funnel. Further, the data thrown can show possible reasons for user abandonment. Let's take the previous eCommerce site as an example. These sites can collect immense amounts of data. For instance, if the main goal is completing a sale, why aren't users achieving this? Are these users still on the web, or did they abandon the site altogether?
At this stage, Workflow Hypotheses begin to take shape. Some reasons can be a lack of clarity in navigation or fluency when filling in required fields. Yet, in all cases, it's crucial to have contingency plans to improve the experience. In most cases, A/B testing can help teams discover why user flows are cut.
User Workflow Wireframing
According to Senior Product Manager Anthony Morelli, user flows enable efficient development. Also, these force devs and designers to be more thorough and perfectionist. In turn, they save time and headaches. Morelli also highlights adding wireframes when diagraming. He claims it is an easy interface to present and connects to a chain of codes. For the most part, wireframes carry all the logic needed to create an app and what would be redundant to write it.
In sum, diagrams define the flow of a web or app. Further, these help to:
● Set possible user flows
● Discover fundamental steps
● Getting necessary feedback from stakeholders
● Improve decision-making before the design stages
Creating an exemplary user flow diagram requires analysis of several edges, such as:
● Understanding who the users are
● Determining what are the final users’ goals
● Studying how users interact with the product
● Identifying when users need the information
● Tracing where the users’ flow tends to go
What is a User Workflow Engine?
A workflow engine runs digital workflow software, often with low-code visual builders. These applications translate manual workflows to software-managed processes. In response, engines redirect information paths and channels. All this enables more efficient use of resources. In sum, workflow engines allow businesses to create and automate workflows. That's why they're often called the backbone of automation.
Yet, there are quite some differences between workflow software and engines. The first ones refer to everyday tasks and simpler processes. Meanwhile, workflow engines have more connections with database servers. In this context, engines define the needed data and its purposes. Through a workflow engine, metaprogramming is possible. When the regulation is available for the scheduled date, it favors meta-programming. As a result, developers can parse and insert the code when needed.
Further, engines are responsible for handling the workload. With exemplary configuration, engines can leave no loose strings in encoding structures. And as we know, constant monitoring is key to success within the IT field.
What is User Workflow Automation?
A 2021 Zapier study found that 94% of SMBs run repetitive, time-consuming tasks. Also, 90% of workers said that automation improved their workflow. Lastly, over 65% recognized that this process improved productivity.
Workflow Automation applies to many business edges. Among the most known, there are Sales, Marketing, and Operations. Yet, it's also valid for Customer Service, Human Resources, and Accounting. In general, companies automate processes to reduce errors and speed up processes. Also, automatization helps to increase productivity and efficiency.
About User Workflow in UX Design, there are some edges to notice. One of the most influential aspects is consistency. Your business goals must be the centerpiece for all elements of your product. Yet, this centerpiece needs to conceive UX Workflow from scratch. There's no use in a product that forces users to learn new ways to complete mundane tasks. Thus, keep uniformity in buttons, labels, and menus. Take advantage of visual resources to guide users to every possible interaction route!
Along with consistency, context and clarity also take the lead. Take care of help texts and tooltips to ensure users can complete all tasks they want to. In the end, this approach also reduces fixing-errors time. Another highlight relates to mobile devices. Unsurprisingly, smart devices are taking the lead when interacting with digital products. Thus, automated workflows need to be mobile-friendly. For example, adjust your buttons and CTAs by considering finger-tapping rather than mouse-clicking.
User workflows are an essential tool in a designer's kit box. In a nutshell, these allow you to study the efficiency and simplicity of your project. The design is quite a measurement of the success of any product in UX-related terms. As a result, there are greater chances of growth when there are no complications. Workflow details depend on the product's purpose. Further, it always needs to focus on the final audiences who will use the outcome. And in the end, users are the ones that express the most significant data for software teams. So, listening to their actions gains relevance every single day.