A while back I wrote about wireframes. This is a great approach for single screens. For more complicated flows, you could try using text and write down the consecutive steps, but as soon as there is a decision somewhere in the flow, it gets difficult. Flowcharts are the perfect solution.

A flow chart represents some workflow, process or algorithm. It uses boxes, connected by arrows. You’re probably familiar with it, but every time I create one I’m amazed by the amount of clarity such a diagram gives over a list of bullets or a paragraph of text.

The great thing about a flow chart is that it is really easy to dissect complex flows into processes and decisions. There are even standards for this stuff, but you’re free to create whatever will help you, obviously.

There are a couple of tools that might help you get started:

  • Pen and paper. Nothing beats pen and paper. Drawing a diagram when you’re thinking trough a complex topic will give a lot of clarity. It is a little hard to share and to change around though.
  • Omnigraffle is good. It is a great tool, but because you can use it to create all kinds of diagrams, a bit complex.
  • LucidChart is a web based tool. Used it a couple of times. It works well with Google Apps, so you’ll be able to work together and share your diagrams easily.
  • Google Drawings template. Got this one from Edial Dekker and he was generous enough to let me share it with you. It is a really simple template with just the elements you need. Just copy it over to your Google Drive and start building.

What tools do you use to build flowcharts?