It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. This is especially true when it comes to mobile apps. Yes, you might often be measured by the “destination” (mobile KPIs) but that’s not to say that the journey is any less important. The journey that a user takes to complete an action is critical because it speaks volumes about their intent and your app’s usability. In analytics lingo, one way to assess these critical journeys is through user flows.
Let’s rewind for a second though. What is a user flow?
User flows are for the visual learner. Via distinct arrows, where thickness indicates number of navigations, user flows show you the inbound and outbound journeys for every screen and popup within your app.
They enable you at a glance to assess how the bulk of your users (and the minority) are moving from one screen to another. When drilling down into specific user flows and screens, you can obtain powerful insights regarding user intent and usability.
Click on the image below to see a video of an interactive user flow with Appsee. You’ll see how you can drag and toggle elements to zoom in on the parameters that you want to measure. When hovering over a specific screen you can obtain a summary of the number of sessions and impressions per screen.
**Pro tip: If the number of impressions are disproportionately larger than the number of sessions, this could indicate a confused user journey and warrants further investigation.
There are two angles from which to examine via user flows: investigation and discovery. You can utilize user flows to actively investigate specific screens that you know tend to be “problematic” and/or have a direct impact on CR. Contrastingly, if you simply want to monitor navigation patterns on a routine level, you can utilize user flows to discover behavior trends across factors such as devices, user demographics, and OS.
The following use cases serve as examples of how mobile professionals can make the most of this pretty, yet powerful, feature. While this list is definitely not exhaustive, you’ll surely walk away with even more ideas of how to monitor and improve user journeys in your app.
User Flow Use Cases
New vs. Returning Users
It’s a known fact that an in-app journey will be different for a new user versus a returning user. How you identify, examine, and optimize around these differences can have a significant effect on your UX. Naturally, these two types of users are going to have different intents when entering your app. User flow analysis is a terrific way to compare and contrast the behaviors and experiences of these users. First, a new user will have certain tendencies. They might be more inclined to peruse the app, checking out all the goodies and assessing if they actually want the app to occupy their coveted background screen space. Whereas a returning user will probably know exactly where he/she wants to go, meaning that their path will be more direct, probably with fewer “random” navigations. That said, if you see on your user flows that new vs. returning users are navigating in the same manner, it might be cause for concern.
Shop > Crash
The Shop/Product feed screen is a major component of any mCommerce app. The only way users will fill their “cart” is by first interacting with this essential screen. From this screen, users can also demonstrate a variety of intentions/needs. When using user flow analysis to better understand your shop screen’s ability to convert, here are a few key questions you should ask yourself:
- Is there a difference in how new users are behaving versus returning users?
- What is the percentage of navigations from the Shop screen to My Cart screen out of the total navigations?
- Is the number of navigations from Shop to My Cart dramatically higher (or lower) for new users than returning users?
And what about crashes occurring from the Shop screen? How many new users are experiencing crashes compared to returning users? What about different versions and devices?
Let’s take a look at how Appsee’s user flows answer this essential performance topic. You can see below that 10.6% of new users experienced a crash after visiting the Shop screen for the first time. This is quite a high percentage and is certainly going to affect churn rates. A user’s trust and reliability in the app is going to plummet if he/she can’t even shop during a first session.
That’s not to say that crashes are not also catastrophic for returning users. A positive characteristic of returning users is that their interest in your app is higher and that they are more likely to become “loyal” users. But, if the crash continues to happen, even to a returning user who has built trust in your app, they will eventually churn. As seen below, there is still quite a high crash rate of 9.4% that is still cursing returning users.
This use case may cause you to scratch your head. Illogical user journeys happen all the time. Some might be negligible, others can indicate a bigger underlying issue in usability and/or performance
For example, why would a user, new or returning, go from the Shop screen to the Login screen
- This flow simply is slightly illogical and requires further investigation.
- This might signify a bug in the app
- Maybe there’s a navigation issue, where users are tapping on something that they think will take them to the next step, but actually, it’s taking them back to the Login screen.
- Perhaps returning users want to create a new account or actively log out of the app.
- Is there an error or some interruption/prompt that caused them to do this?
- This flow simply is slightly illogical and requires further investigation.
Not only is it confusing, but it can also be downright frustrating for users if their intended journey is disrupted. And what’s the result of confusion and frustration? You know the answer already: churn, churn, churn.
When analyzing app user behavior, it’s necessary to take different versions and devices into account because technology can be finicky, and what works for Android, may not be working for iOS (or vice versa). “Working” can mean many things. For example, maybe a particular illogical flow is occurring on Android and not on iOS? Perhaps a popup on iOS is causing more users to quit the app than the same popup on Android?
With Appsee’s user flows, you can toggle between iOS and Android to understand differences and similarities between the two operating systems. You can also go back and forth between version types and phone vs. tablet.
High Intent Screens
There’s a reason these high intent screens exist, but what’s actually happening in these big boy screens? For example, let’s take a look at the Login and Payment screens which are highly trafficked by users. The former because so many apps use Login to identify and personalize your app experience, and the latter because for shopping and food and beverage apps, as well as many others, this is The Big Cheese, the most important screen to visit.
- Via user flows, we recommend that you drill down to the inbound and outbound journeys from these specific screens, and ask the following questions:
- Is there a high percentage of users quitting the app just before the Payment screen? Are any journeys ending in a crash?
- Are there inbound screens to Login other than the splash/opening screen?
- Was there an abnormally low number of users navigating to the Home after Login? Where are they going instead?
Pro tip: User Flows + User Session Recordings
User flows improve mobile professional’s understanding of where users are heading within the app. They’re able to zoom in on the intent of users in specific settings, whether it’s a first-time user or a returning user, iOS or Android, or any other parameter that you want to measure.
Yet, believe it or not, there’s a chance to take this analysis one step further–to not only see the connections between screens but to then dive into the individual sessions and see what users are actually doing thanks to user recordings.
Some analytics tools, like Appsee, provide these user session recordings for app teams so that they can quickly and easily investigate certain problems or abnormalities within journeys. Earlier in this piece, we mentioned the importance of tracking crashed sessions on major screens like the ‘Shop’ screen. Session recordings go one step further by enabling you to see the crash during the user’s session.
Within Appsee’s user flows, as you’re selecting a flow for review, you can hover over any specific screen and a pop up will appear. From here you can watch all session recordings of users who took this exact path. For example, if you hover over the arrow that leads from Shop > Crash, you can watch all sessions that include this exact flow. By watching recordings of these specific crashed sessions you can better understand the in-app events that preceded these crashes.
User flows enable mobile professionals to delve into specific user paths in order to figure out what’s working, and what’s not. Now that you have all the tools, the resources, and plenty of starter ideas to get the user flows flowing, it’s time to get analyzing.
Give user flows, and session recordings a try with a 14-day free trial with Appsee.