Monday 10 May 2021

User Journey vs User Flow

What is the difference between these two? what do we need to know before we start either?

firstly let's answer these two questions
Who is our user? in our case it'll be Tom, a guy waiting in reception, for a doctor, mechanic or any other professional service.
What is our user's goal? to fight off boredom, waiting is boring; Tom just wants to kill some time while he waits to be called by the receptionist.

Now that we know who our user is and what he wants we can work on what steps will Tom take to accomplish his goal?

Let's start with User Journey; lets hypothetically say we are designing a blackjack application; the user journey may be at a high level something along the lines of
  1. Tom is sitting waiting at the doctors office, he is board and wants to occupy himself
  2. Tom pulls his phone out of his pocket
  3. Tom opens up BlackJack stars
  4. Tom joins a blackjack game
  5. Tom plays 5 hands
  6. Tom closes the app because he is called up by the secretary.
notice that in a user journey there is no real concern as to how Tom accomplishes any of his actions just that he does them. A user journey in a way could be represented as a story board, which would be a great way to investigate or hypothesis various situations as well as understand the real world context in which Tom would use the BlackJack stars app.

Whereas a User flow is concerned with Tom's micro interactions within the application:
  1. Tom Launches the BlackJack stars app
  2. Tom Selects the new game option from the splash menu
  3. Tom Is sat at a virtual table with 4 other players mid deck
  4. Tom Joins the game
  5. Tom Is dealt in on the next hand, 
  6. Tom Gets an ace and a jack
  7. Tom Stands
  8. Tom waits for the other players to finish
  9. Tom wins 
the user flow is far more detailed it is less concerned with the context that Tom is in and more so with the interactions Tom has with the app, we still do not discuss buttons and labels but more so actions to try and understand the user flow so that we could use this knowledge to support our design.

in short a User Journey is high level and could be represented as a Story board, whereas a User flow is concerned with the interactions the user has within the application to accomplish a particular goal, and could be represented as a flowchart initially and later as low-fidelity screens.