What is it?
User journeys describe the steps a user takes when they’re on your website.
What pages do they land on, how did they get there and where can they go next? User flows help us to map the user experience and ensure each path, happy or unhappy, is catered for to help your users achieve their goals.
Now for the ‘efficiency’ bit - let’s get sciency. Well, not that sciency. If the formula for efficiency is output divided by input; the greater the input, the lower the efficiency. In the context of user flows, we can translate output to the impact on your users and input to the number of steps, pages and clicks users must take on your site. If, for argument’s sake, the impact of your site remains constant; the greater the number of steps, the less efficient your user journeys.
Throwing away leftover food is bad, leaving the tap running whilst brushing your teeth is worse and convoluted user journeys should be up there too.
I find it useful to start by methodically defining the purpose of a piece of content, functionality or interaction design.
James Pancaldi, UX Designer
It’s very much in our interest, then - as designers, content editors and everything in between - to reduce the complexity of our user journeys.
Why should I care?
Why? Because a lack of efficiency has negative consequences for our beloved environment. At a very top level, the more complex a website is, the more convoluted your user journeys are, and the more energy is required to run it; so, the greater its impact on the climate.
Aside from lessening the environmental impact, streamlined user journeys have many benefits to users. Reducing the number of hops, skips and clicks a user has to make means a reduction in friction and time spent online as it’s easier for them to achieve their goals. Fewer pages also means less content to manage! And, all whilst using less energy - it’s a win-win. To give a real-world example, it becomes easier for a customer to buy that t-shirt they have been eyeing up on your online shop.
What can I do right now?
If you’re keen for your customers to buy items more efficiently and help save the environment one click at a time, you can do the following:
Know your audience.
Understanding your audiences’ wants and needs is key to user-centred design and ensuring your website is optimised to help them achieve their goals.
User research methods, such as personas and user journey maps, can be leveraged to keep your audience front and centre and determine what type of content your users need and when. This type of qualitative data ensures you can make informed decisions about the content on your site.
They say you don’t truly know someone until you live with them. So get up close and personal with your user journeys - live them. If that’s even possible. What’s really important is that you get under the skin of your user experience. When it comes to creating efficient user journeys: practice reflexivity, consider a variety of possibilities or perspectives and be critical. All in the name of reducing complexity.
Conducting usability reviews, content audits and user journey reviews are all methods you can use to apply a critical lens when optimising your site. Ask yourself whether a piece of content, functionality or a design element adds or detracts value from the user experience.
This is also where you need to balance both users’ needs and that of your business. Breaking long-form content into multiple pages might, for example, benefit SEO but adds unnecessary complexity to the user experience and increases your carbon footprint.
Test & learn.
Whether you’re making data-inspired -informed, or -driven decisions, there is always room for improvement. It’s no different when it comes to creating efficient user journeys.
Are users taking abnormally long to complete a task or bouncing as soon as they land on your site? Use analytics data and user feedback to understand where there are pinch points in your experience. In addition to this, conducting user testing and running A/B tests against hypotheses are a great place to start. Streamlined and efficient user journeys are great but don’t forget ethical UX practices. Make sure you avoid trapping your users with dark patterns, for instance!
- Learn more about user testing / WIRED