How User Flows and Sitemaps Support Successful Visitor Journeys

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 at 9:30am
How User Flows and Sitemaps Support Successful Visitor Journeys (and How They’re Different)

When evaluating the quality of your visitor journeys, there are numerous factors to consider. Two of those being your user flows, and your sitemap. Many times these two are interwoven, but they are indeed different. Let’s discuss how both user flows and sitemaps play into a site experience, and how they’re different.

User Stories Help Draft User Flows

Every page of your campus website offers a list of specific available services. On the other side, there are different types of site users who will be interested in using a variation of these services to complete different types of tasks. These user stories are meant to help you define the process flow required of site visitors to accomplish a task, and in turn, this will help you write your user flows.

User Flows Document a Task

User flows capture the different tasks that can be completed by site visitors, by documenting the literal steps they must take to accomplish them. For example, a new user is visiting your site and looking to set up an account with your organization. The user flow contains all of the steps they will take to set up a new account and the details involved - such as the various pages or screens they will be taken through in the process.

Sitemaps Document Structure

Sitemap document page navigations and hierarchies. They display how pages are connected and layered within one another. Sitemaps aren’t correlated to specific tasks. Instead, they serve to reference the structure of how your site’s pages are ordered for when you’re considering a user flow or visitor journey.

Together They Support Successful Visitor Journeys

User flows help your organization apply values to the various pages within your website. They help determine if the processes in place for site users are logical and efficient. Since user flows remind us of the steps involved to accomplish the goals users have in mind, we can make sure nothing gets overlooked when evaluating current visitor journeys. For example, have you considered all scenarios? What if a password doesn’t work for a returning user? What should the next step look like to ensure an overall positive experience on your site? Lastly, you can see how sitemaps also play a role by helping visualize how current pages are structured. You can then determine if the structure in place makes sense for the processes these user flows are generating, or if they should be moved around. Maybe you need to alter the process instead of the current site structure. Overall, it’s clear to see how these concepts differ from one another, yet both support the goal of a successful visitor journey on your site!

Does your organization currently consider user flows and sitemaps in your evaluation of visitor journeys?

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Hannon Hill Corporation

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