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Your constantly-updated definition of Flowcharts and collection of topical content and literature

What are Flowcharts?

Flowcharts are diagrams of user flows and tasks in processes. Designers use these versatile tools to visualize the interactions in designs and present easy-to-understand maps of designs to stakeholders. They connect labeled, standardized symbols with lines to show everything users might do in interactive contexts.

“You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people; design is made for people.”

— Dieter Rams, Industrial designer and pioneer of “less is better”

Author/Copyright holder: LucidChart. Copyright terms and license: Fair Use.

LucidChart has an intuitive drag-and-drop interface.

Map out New Designs and Evaluate Existing Ones using Flowcharts

In user experience (UX) design, designers use flowcharts mainly to plot how users move through an interface, such as an app, to achieve their goals (e.g., to purchase clothes online). They describe the relationships between pages/screens and show all interactive possibilities—the starting points, actions required, moments of decision and endpoints—as users encounter and use interfaces. They also aim to account for the various factors that impact users’ interactions (e.g., busy environments). Since flowcharts are highly visual, they’re valuable reference points throughout projects. Flowcharts have a standardized set of:

  • Symbols e.g., typically, a rectangle represents an app screen or webpage, a line with an arrow represents the direction users move through a user flow, and a diamond represents a decision point where users must choose an option (so, it’s crucial to show all the directions users can go); and
  • Conventions – e.g., you present data from left to right and top to bottom.

As paper or digital deliverables, flowcharts represent interactive sequences at two levels:

  1. User flows – Overviews of the complete process of steps which users might take through a whole app, service or website (e.g., from accessing a webshop’s landing page to confirming purchases).
  2. Task flows – Specific aspects of the above (e.g., just the checkout process).

You can use flowcharts especially effectively to:

  1. Visualize interactions for ideation and exploration – to:
    1. Account for all possible interactions (at the start of the design process, to shape user flows).
    2. Evaluate your design’s efficiency – anytime during or after development: e.g., you can spot a user flow which takes too many steps to complete, or a dead end that will likely confuse users (e.g., if they find an item is out of stock and don’t know what to do next).
  2. Present to stakeholders:
    1. Internal stakeholders can examine flowcharts whenever you need approval/buy-in before you can proceed to prototyping (although time and resource constraints might suggest you just prototype instead).
    2. External stakeholders (e.g., clients) can understand your project’s scale and scope when you use a flowchart to help explain how your UX deliverables will ultimately appear.

Paper flowcharts work best here, as your design team can easily erase and redraw these while bouncing ideas around.

Create Flowcharts that Capture Realistic Experiences and All Possibilities

You can dissect even the most complex processes into concise, attractive flowcharts on paper or choose from an array of software to create digital flowcharts with varying features (e.g., real-time collaboration, drag-and-drop functionality). Popular flowcharting UX tools include LucidChart, Microsoft Visio and OmniGraffle.

To accurately reflect what your users experience via a flowchart, it’s best to define:

  1. Your users and their needs through UX research.
  2. What you want your solution to help users do.
  3. The tasks and subtasks from point of entry to goal completion: From a point of entry (e.g., when a user Googles and finds your site), you can break each task (e.g., purchasing tickets) into 4–8 subtasks (from clicking an app to completing checkout).
  4. Decision points: Discover the critical times users must think about their activities, and how they’ll form impressions of your product/design.
  5. Various paths users can take: Map out task sequences so users can complete actions easily and without wondering how to use your product/design. (In seamless experiences, users shouldn’t have to think about your product/design itself.)

Your best flowcharts will show you empathize with users at each stage corresponding to their customer journey maps.

Author/Copyright holder: icrosoft. Copyright terms and license: Fair Use.

Microsoft Visio is a flowchart tool which a similar UI to the Microsoft Office suite of apps.


Wireflows are alternatives to flowcharts. You need wireframing skills to make these. In a wireflow, you connect the wireframes of various pages according to how users will interact with them. So, you’ll have a more realistic-looking, concrete solution to ideate with and spot potential usability problems. However, wireflows tend to be better for showing more simple designs—e.g., websites with few pages—and they can vary in fidelity, or sophistication. Also, in dynamic solutions where users can interact in more complicated workflows, flowcharts may be better due to limitations in space or resources. Plus, there’s a risk of overinvestment (especially earlier on) if your high-fidelity wireflow gets discarded.

Overall, always approach flowcharts with a designer’s eye for visuals. When you diagram tasks thoughtfully for users’ contexts, you can better plan how to help them move as easily as possible from start to finish in each process. Your solutions will therefore more likely resonate with users.

Learn More about Flowcharts

Take our UX Portfolio course, which addresses many aspects of organizing information: https://www.interaction-design.org/courses/How-to-create-a-UX-portfolio

This Justinmind blog offers helpful flowcharting hints: https://www.justinmind.com/blog/tips-and-tricks-for-making-a-ux-flowchart/

Read some additional in-depth insights on flowcharts here: https://medium.com/eightshapes-llc/creating-excellent-ux-flow-charts-df6f1e46e524

Literature on Flowcharts

Here’s the entire UX literature on Flowcharts by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Flowcharts

Take a deep dive into Flowcharts with our course User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide .

If you’ve heard the term user experience design and been overwhelmed by all the jargon, then you’re not alone. In fact, most practicing UX designers struggle to explain what they do!

“[User experience] is used by people to say, ‘I’m a user experience designer, I design websites,’ or ‘I design apps.’ […] and they think the experience is that simple device, the website, or the app, or who knows what. No! It’s everything — it’s the way you experience the world, it’s the way you experience your life, it’s the way you experience the service. Or, yeah, an app or a computer system. But it’s a system that’s everything.”

— Don Norman, pioneer and inventor of the term “user experience,” in an interview with NNGroup

As indicated by Don Norman, User Experience is an umbrella term that covers several areas. When you work with user experience, it’s crucial to understand what those areas are so that you know how best to apply the tools available to you.

In this course, you will gain an introduction to the breadth of UX design and understand why it matters. You’ll also learn the roles and responsibilities of a UX designer, how to confidently talk about UX and practical methods that you can apply to your work immediately.

You will learn to identify the overlaps and differences between different fields and adapt your existing skills to UX design. Once you understand the lay of the land, you’ll be able to chart your journey into a career in UX design. You’ll hear from practicing UX designers from within the IxDF community — people who come from diverse backgrounds, have taught themselves design, learned on the job, and are enjoying successful careers.

If you are new to the Interaction Design Foundation, this course is a great place to start because it brings together materials from many of our other courses. This provides you with both an excellent introduction to user experience and a preview of the courses we have to offer to help you develop your future career. After each lesson, we will introduce you to the courses you can take if a specific topic has caught your attention. That way, you’ll find it easy to continue your learning journey.

In the first lesson, you’ll learn what user experience design is and what a UX designer does. You’ll also learn about the importance of portfolios and what hiring managers look for in them.

In the second lesson, you’ll learn how to think like a UX designer. This lesson also introduces you to the very first exercise for you to dip your toes into the cool waters of user experience. 

In the third and the fourth lessons, you’ll learn about the most common UX design tools and methods. You’ll also practice each of the methods through tailor-made exercises that walk you through the different stages of the design process.

In the final lesson, you’ll step outside the classroom and into the real world. You’ll understand the role of a UX designer within an organization and what it takes to overcome common challenges at the workplace. You’ll also learn how to leverage your existing skills to successfully transition to and thrive in a new career in UX.   

You’ll be taught by some of the world’s leading experts. The experts we’ve handpicked for you are:

  • Alan Dix, Director of the Computational Foundry at Swansea University, author of Statistics for HCI: Making Sense of Quantitative Data

  • Ann Blandford, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at University College London

  • Frank Spillers, Service Designer, Founder and CEO of Experience Dynamics

  • Laura Klein, Product Management Expert, Principal at Users Know, Author of Build Better Products and UX for Lean Startups

  • Michal Malewicz, Designer and Creative Director / CEO of Hype4 Mobile

  • Mike Rohde, Experience and Interface Designer, Author of The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking

  • Szymon Adamiak, Software Engineer and Co-founder of Hype4 Mobile

  • William Hudson, User Experience Strategist and Founder of Syntagm

Throughout the course, we’ll supply you with lots of templates and step-by-step guides so you can start applying what you learn in your everyday practice.

You’ll find a series of exercises that will help you get hands-on experience with the methods you learn. Whether you’re a newcomer to design considering a career switch, an experienced practitioner looking to brush up on the basics, or work closely with designers and are curious to know what your colleagues are up to, you will benefit from the learning materials and practical exercises in this course.

You can also learn with your fellow course-takers and use the discussion forums to get feedback and inspire other people who are learning alongside you. You and your fellow course-takers have a huge knowledge and experience base between you, so we think you should take advantage of it whenever possible.

You earn a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you’ve completed the course. You can highlight it on your resume, LinkedIn profile or website.

All Literature

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