Flows modeling

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Jul 30, 2019

One of the most prominent functions of the UX designer is to construct flows. Paths that users follow to execute their tasks and ultimately achieving their goal.

Flow modeling helps to explore back and forth actions in the context of an app, website, or SaaS platform. It does not necessarily explore interface layout and elements positioning. Yet, it focuses on validating the concept by stitching together isolated next and previous steps and linking navigational points. At the same time, it is the tool to test the ability of user or visitor to reconstruct the followed path in his mind: "How I got here? What is waiting for me next? How do I reach the starting point?".

Designer's task is to create a complete picture that involves both logic and feelings in the flow. There is a number of ways how to do that. Information architecture maps usually about drawing boxes connected with lines and this helps to preliminary navigational logic. Where scenarios are about sketching scenes and elements later building a sequence like for a movie. The scenario captures characters (personas) and feelings helping to define wins and wow effects. Exploring negative experience or dead ends is also part of the flow.

Good design, in this case, rely on the observation of people in the real world and creating flows that are reducing work and effort in the digital solution. It doesn't make sense to introduce a flow that takes more effort in an app, comparing to real life. For example, taking a paper and writing an address is much faster than to fill-in address form on a mobile device. It is a tremendous hassle to write an address in multiple fields, especially if autosuggest is not introduced. As a good example, Google Maps employs seamless flow in finding a street from one input filed and suggesting to navigate to the address as the next step. That in comparison to a printed map is a great win.

UX designer is responsible for drafting and testing interactions along the flow. It can be done in a form of logic mapping, or navigational prototype. Quick testing (observation) is playing a great role in flow modeling. Just because predicting people's wills and needs is very hard, using flow modeling helps to explore overall logic, expectations, and feelings.

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