User flow is a key determinant of user experience. In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the different ways you can optimize user flow on your website.

Your website design is a major determinant of the amount of traffic that your website can generate, and even more so in this information age. Designer and Technologist, John Maeda, when speaking on how important design has become, said: Design used to be the seasoning you’d sprinkle on for taste; now it’s the flour you need at the start of the recipe. Website design is about more than aesthetics. Some websites are visually beautiful but challenging to use and navigate. The best sites are designed with user flow in mind. User flow is key factor in website development and creating the ultimate user experience.

In this blog, we’ll look at some great tips you can use to optimize user flow. However, before we go too far into the article, let’s do a quick check on some of the basics.

What is User Flow?

Before you can discuss how to optimize user flow, you must first understand what user flow is. Basically speaking, user flow represents the path taken by a website user to complete a specific task. This task can be sales focused, such as purchasing an item, or it can be less obvious, such as page views on a particular page. When looking at user flow, developers analyze its efficiency by tracking the flow of actions from the entry point to the final task.

User flow diagrams are deeply tied to the website user experience. When considering these types of flows, designers and developers think about:

  • The goals of the user
  • The values of the user
  • Information needed by the user to complete the identified task
  • Potential hesitations or barriers for the user

While the concept is straightforward, actual user flows can be quite the opposite, because there is often more than one way to reach the desired action on any website.

It is important to point out that user flows differ from site flows. These types of flows also represent movement through a website, but they are not modeled around an action. Instead, they give developers a bird’s eye view of what is going on inside. Instead of guiding the user, site flows help with information organization and project estimation.

Without a designed, thoughtful, and curated flow—aka, a funnel—your users will end up confused and frustrated. Planning or (re)designing to optimize user flow will keep your users happy and more likely to follow the path to conversion. If you do this well enough, they’ll keep coming back.

What Does a User Flow Look Like?

A user flow is a visual representation of the user’s journey through a website. If you build an ecommerce website with the ecommerce website builder and run it, the user flow traces the user’s path from the moment they arrive on your landing page to the point of checkout. Here’s an example user flow for an eCommerce site:

Most user experience (UX) designers visualize user flows using flowcharts. These are similar to the flowcharts used by programmers. Designers use them to evaluate user decision points and increase the chances of lead conversion.

Now, we can go through the strategies you can apply to optimize user flow on your website.

Why Optimize User Flow?

This answer to this is simple: Website user experience is important!

  1. Does your title make sense?
  2. Is your sub-heading easy to read?
  3. Is your content answering questions?

These questions directly affect your website user flow. Optimizing user flow involves numerous techniques that make it easier for users to move through various points of contact. Because user flows illustrate the steps taken by a user to complete a task, when you optimize user flow can help increase website conversions. It also helps improve the user experience of a web-based project by better aligning the goals of the user with those of the business.

User Flow and SEO

Many people overlook the importance of user flow for search engine optimization. There are many direct SEO benefits to focusing on user flow. Firstly, when you optimize user flow, it increases the chances of a positive user experience which may also directly impact domain authority. Flow charts also show SEO-specialists which content resonates with users the most so that they can more effectively leverage that content. While many SEO managers may not immediately recognize the value of user flows, they will appreciate a well-optimized one.

Ways To Optimize User Flow

Adhere to the following ways in order to optimize user flow for your website:

14 Ways to Optimize User flow

1. Map Out The Ideal User Journey

To understand how users interact with your website, and optimize user flow, begin by creating a customer journey map. Create an ideal buyer persona, including their goals and the problems they would like to solve. These goals are the main reason they visit your site.

Once you’ve identified their customer’s goals, create maps that would logically link content on your site together. This often involves internally linking between relevant content, or making sure that appropriate content is accessible through the main menu.

2. Create Funnel Vision

As a designer, it is very tempting to start planning how the site will look before you thoroughly consider how the site will work. It is essential, however, to resist this urge and think about the needs of the business and the habits of the user first. Working from this frame of reference, it is easy to create conversion funnels that ensure your website aligns with the needs of the business as well as the user. Funnels provide a framework so that designers can focus on creating with the goal to optimize user flow.

3. Understand Entry Points

How did users find your website? Where do they typically enter it? Through the homepage, a landing page, or some other “side door”? It makes a difference.

Let's say one of your sub-pages ranks high in Google search results, and thus, is attracting many users through this “side door,” the majority of your users may not see the curated presentation of your homepage. Instead, their first impression of you is this sub-page, which may be in the middle of your user flow—or not in the flow at all. Knowing this will allow you to create a plan to move users into the flow from the “side door” page.

The answer may lie in Google Analytics, which can show you how your users land on your website and what they do once there.

4. Review the Right Analytics

Without data, you’ll have no idea whether your user flow is actually working.

When looking at your Google Analytics dashboard, It’s easy to get mesmerized by stats like “page views”. But these are often simplistic metrics.

Rather, dig a little more to find key performance indicators (KPIs) that relate directly to your specific goals. Some common KPIs include:

  • Lead Generation Rate - percentage of users who complete a lead form. Look at the pages on your site that get the most traffic.
  • Abandonment Rate - percentage of users who leave a lead form without completing it. By looking at how people use your site, you can identify where prospective customers drop off and leave the site. These are known as chokepoints.
  • Content Downloads - number of users who download your documents after giving you their email address
  • Support Requests - number of users who ask for help with your website or organization

Reviewing analytics specific to your organization will give you information on how best to optimize user flow.

5. Analyse Customer Feedback

As you analyze your website, put yourself in your visitors’ shoes. Better yet, involve your users in the process of analyzing and optimizing your website’s user flow. Customer feedback is invaluable and will help you identify ways to make the site more responsive and intuitive. Short, concise web forms are the best way to do this.

By mapping out the customer journey and learning about how visitors interact with your site, you can reduce your bounce rate and increase conversions.

6. Help Your Users

Many website funnels lead to a form, however, if that form is not designed well, users may leave before successfully filling it out. Perhaps the questions are confusing, or they can’t find the submit button. Thankfully, this “user flow dead-end” is easy to fix. Help users finish the flow by utilizing early error checking or adding tooltip hints during the design process.

7. Understand the Power of Good Graphics

Having less content often makes it harder to drive users down a funnel, but written content isn’t the only way to create an engaging environment that encourages users to click around. Graphics and icons can fill the gaps written content leaves behind, by guiding users in the right direction. To optimize user flow by using graphics, choose visuals that align with the brand throughout the site. These visuals help remind users why they are there and what they should be doing.

14 Ways to Optimize User flow

8. Create Great Content

Improving the design of your website can help optimize user flow. However, it is just one component of the journey. The other half is the content that you provide on the site.

A great headline is useless if the content doesn’t match it. Most users will only scan your content for a few seconds before deciding whether it’s relevant to them. You need to ensure that they come away with the sense that the content you are delivering is worth their attention.

Remember, visitors to your website are online, and just one click away from a funny Youtube video, Netflix, or any other source of entertainment. Your job is to stop them from leaving. Ideally, you want them to make a purchase or sign up to your email list before they do.

9. Shorten the User Journey

While written content is vital to any website, too much of it can be a bad thing. Keeping content short, especially on pages that feature a call to action, can help improve website user flow if we do optimize user flow. Users often become overwhelmed if exposed to too much content, and may miss the point of what they are supposed to do, therefore shorter is better. If there isn’t enough content to fill the page, get creative with the font size.

A golden rule of website design is, “Don’t make your user think too hard.” Your user should be able to find their way around your website easily and quickly. Minimizing the number of steps in the user flow can help you reduce friction and make it easier (and faster) for the user to achieve their goal. An intuitive menu is a critical part of making your site navigable.

10. Ensure Faster Page Loading

There are entirely too many websites on the internet to expect any user to wait around for a page that does not load. Of course, slow loading pages are not always due to web design – the user may have a slow connection. However, there are techniques that help increase the accessibility of a site, regardless of the user’s bandwidth. Create fast-loading pages to optimize user flow and keep users from exiting due to impatience.

11. Perform A/B Testing

If you are creating a website that focuses on conversions, you’ll want to A/B test your designs to see which ones users respond to best. This type of testing is time-consuming, but if done correctly, it can produce useful predictions into what users prefer. Unlike other user flow techniques, A/B testing does not directly improve user flow; instead, it answers the question of which techniques work best. While this alone will not optimize user flow, it can be used with other strategies to determine the best approach.

12. Design an Easy to Understand UI

Intuitive, easy-to-use interfaces are synonymous with good user experiences. When a user interacts with a website for the first time, they put their existing knowledge to use. To optimize user flow make sure the user interface is in line with what users already know, you’ll be able to deliver a frictionless user flow that subtly nudges the user from one step to the next.

13. Keep Users Focused

Websites loaded with text, images, catchy UI elements, call to actions and whatnot not only clutter your user interface but also take away the user’s focus. Keep in mind that the user landed on your site with a specific goal in mind. As a designer, it’s your job to make sure they’re able to accomplish that goal as fast as possible.

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14. Focus on UX

Although user flow and user experience are two distinct topics, they remain intricately linked. Many times, by simply focusing on the user experience, you can also optimize user flow. On some websites, user flow is blocked by un-engaging or unconvincing content. In other scenarios, flow comes to a screeching halt due to technical issues. This is where a focus on the experience of the user, rather than merely the flow, will come in handy.

Go With The Flow!

When you optimize user flow on your website, your product’s users will be able to achieve their goals quickly and with ease. Simply put: the more seamless the user experience, the happier they’ll be. Because every organization is unique, there isn’t a single ideal user flow. Yours will be one-of-a-kind, even compared to your closest competitors. It’s in these subtle differences that success will be found.

We’d love to help you find the ideal user flow formula that works for you. NinjaSites is a solution from 500apps that offers features such as content management sytem, blog posting, SEO and easy-to-use website templates all in a visual and intuitive builder. With it, you can build professional and user-friendly websites fast, manage all your content and ensure pages are visible by search engines, in one place.

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