For designers, it’s easy to jump right into the design phase of a website before giving the user experience the consideration it deserves. Too often, we prematurely turn our focus to page design and information architecture, when we should focus on the user flows that need to be supported by our designs. It’s time to make the user flows a bigger priority in our design process.

Design flows that are tied to clear objectives allow us to create a positive user experience and a valuable one for the business we’re working for. In this article, we’ll show you how spending more time up front designing user flows leads to better results for both the user and business. Then we’ll look in depth at a common flow for e-commerce websites (the customer acquisition funnel), as well as provide tips on optimizing it to create a complete customer experience.

Start With The User

When starting a new Web design project, we’re often handed a design brief, branding standards, high-level project goals, as well as feature and functionality requirements. Unfortunately, these documents typically amount to little more than the technical specifications of the project, with almost no thought given to how exactly the website will fulfill the multiple user objectives that lead to successful interactions.


Two examples of popular user flows for e-commerce and subscription websites.

If you start with a detailed look at the objectives of the user and the business, you would be able to sketch out the various flows that need to be designed in order to achieve both parties’ goals. User objectives could range from finding a fact to replacing a product to learning a new skill to buying a gift for someone. Business objectives could be getting a lead, a like, a subscriber, a buyer, a download or a phone call. Identifying each user and business objective is the first step to creating design flows that meet all of them.

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