User flow diagrams: how to create & use in practice

A flowchart can be a perfect tool to visualize the main processes, workflows, or functions of digital solutions - they guide the reader from beginning to end of the journey, demonstrating the logical course of events. Also, they simplify the interaction between designers and developers, allowing them to optimize work processes

FlowMapp Visual user flow tool. User flow consist of page cards and connecting arrows

How to make flowcharts

When you have an abstract vision of the product, you can build an app flow diagram to visualize all the actions an average user can perform within one interface. All this can be done in five essential steps

A process flowchart

A process flowchart is the most common one and allows you to visualize the stages of a project from start to finish so that teammates or clients reading it can easily understand everything

wireflow example. User flow consist of website page cards and connecting arrows

A workflow chart

These flowcharts are needed to review the flow of materials and data in the company and great for planning and explaining business operations, training employees, identifying problems in work processes

example of workflow chart with shapes showing the work stages

A swimlane flowchart

A swimlane flowchart can be used to simplify the interaction between departments and employees

swimlane flowchart example. Diagram shows logic of interaction between employees

A data flowchart

This flowchart can be applied to explain input-output flows in an information system. Use it to create a plan or analyze an existing one

flowchart with logic shapes and web pages covers

Outline the main steps using symbols

Here, you need to list all the steps of the process and assign each of them specific shapes. These shapes depend on the type of diagram you have chosen, what content they will contain, and for what purpose you are creating it


Ovals indicate entry points such as a landing page or user flow stages. In addition, ovals can depict actions that must be taken to complete a certain step


Rectangles represent screens and pages and are the most commonly used shapes for user flow diagrams


Arrows are used to connect all the figures in the user flow. To form the correct diagram structures, you need to follow from left to right or from top to bottom, connecting all steps of the user journey


Parallelograms denote input and output elements in the user flow, such as the option to add or remove quantities of goods, etc.


Diamonds represent different decision-making options that are available to the user when interacting with a website or application

example of using diamonds logical shape in user flow. If user finds picture he like, there are 2 flows of next action

Place the components in order

Once you have visualized all the components of your project, you need to place all the steps in the correct order and add navigation arrows and lines so that you have a basic process map. At this point, you can change the order of the steps or add new ones

example of user flow with website cards for better visualizing

Review and improve

Now that your UI flow diagram is ready, you should carefully review it for mistakes. It’s better to let someone unfamiliar with the process assess your creation - just explain to them the essence of it. If you don’t have such an opportunity, work on improving and simplifying the project on your own

web page cover example

Post and share your work

When you complete all the necessary steps to create, design, and optimize your project, you have to provide all participants access to it. Also, you should publish it in a universal format like PDF so that every reader can easily open the file and check it

share project pop up interface

5 tips on flowchart creation

Use specific color shapes and element sizes

According to the app or website flow diagram standards, you need to use the form of elements identical to its purpose with the same block size and color scheme. This will make it easier for you and your colleagues to interpret the projects

Avoid diamonds if possible

If you use diamonds, this means branching into two directions. This, in turn, makes it difficult to track the flow. In addition, many people don’t understand the meaning of diamonds and may misinterpret or miss them. To avoid problems with understanding your diagram, you can use rectangles while maintaining the logic and making your project easier to read

Separate return lines from the standard route

Users typically read a chart from left to right and from top to bottom. So, if you need to use return lines, you should place them at the bottom. And vice versa, if you need to use several of these lines, then do not cross them

Create multiple threads

If you notice that your flowchart is too long, you can divide it into several flows coming from the first elements of the general one. This way, you won’t confuse people who are reading your app or website user flow diagram

When your project grows over several pages, this is the first sign that it needs to be divided into several smaller ones, and you have to connect these parts with hyperlinks. You can also place the blocks not in one line but in several “floors”, or reduce the blocks’ size while making the accompanying text readable. This will help you use space more efficiently, but in some cases, these methods can make it difficult to understand the logic of the diagram

Add interactivity

Adding some effects, such as highlighting in different colors or animation, will increase the readability and attract users’ attention to those elements that you wanted to spotlight, among others

7 bonus tips

Adhere to standards when using shapes so that anyone who reads your diagram can easily understand it
logical shapes connected by arrows
Select colors and sizes of elements with care so as not to oversaturate the flowchart with unnecessary information
Visual sitemap page canvas with a rectangle with 'start'  text
Keep the same spacing between all the shapes you add to your diagram
user flow sctructure
Make concise diagrams. If you see it is too long, divide the project into parts
user flow example
Use a flow from left to right rather than vice versa because people are used to reading in this way, which makes it easier to perceive information
user flow with web page cards
Use rectangles instead of diamonds to divide the path because it will be easier for people to understand the “Split path” rather than the “Decision”
basic logic in user flow
Place return lines only at the bottom of the diagram; all other options may distract users from your diagram
user flow example

How to use it in practice

In software development

The flowchart demonstrates the workflow of a digital solution through shapes and symbols that make it easier to read for both developers and non-developers. In your diagram, you can describe all the workflows of an application or website and their basic building block. Depending on its type, you will have all the necessary information about data processing and entry and exit points

FlowMapp user flow logical blocks combined with sitemap page cards

In project management

In project management, flowcharts are a great tool that helps readers understand the methodologies you use. With a diagram, you can display all the processes that a project goes through during its life cycle. Project managers use diagrams to improve the efficiency of a project and show its purpose

user flow combines with visual sitemaps cards for better visualization

In marketing

In marketing, you can use flowcharts to visualize the path of how users turn into your customers. This way, you can identify the points where they need help and thus improve your service. They can be created in a variety of ways, such as tree and branch diagrams

user flow with basic Yes or No logic. Flow direction depends on user action

In business analysis

It’s much easier to present information by visualizing it than to explain it in words. That’s why flowcharts in business analysis are designed to explain various processes in simpler terms. Through the symbols and text you use in your diagram, you will help a wider audience understand and assimilate the information

user flow shows the process of ebook offering

In research

You can use flowcharts to guide readers through a complex series of ideas, concepts, and data. Such visualization makes it easier for people who are far from your vision to understand your research work. Plus, you can improve the effectiveness of communication because they allow you to convert complex processes into simple visual representations

user flow of marketing activities

Main mistakes you should avoid

user flow with page card

Stick to one direction of flow
The most common flow directions are left to right and top to bottom. However, avoid mixing them to eliminate confusing readers

user flow bolcks

Make the shapes the same
Maintain the correct proportions of your diagram, avoiding differences in the height and width of the shapes concerning each other. Please note that some elements can be smaller, for example, connectors

user flow diamond shapes, connected with website page covers

Indicate the need to follow alternative paths
Sometimes, processes can bifurcate in flowcharts. To avoid misunderstanding, make a note about whether the user should follow one branch or both

page cards in user flow

Describe processes more deeply
If there are processes in your diagram that require a more detailed description, you have to consider creating footnotes or separate documents in which you describe everything in more depth

shapes in user flow

Create a legend
To make it easier for readers to interact with your diagram, you need to create a legend of all the shapes and symbols used, with a card description or purpose of each of them

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