Go With The Flow: Product Planner Maps Out How The Web's Most Popular Sites Function

When it comes to building a website, one of the key factors in establishing a sizable user base is your site’s ability to ‘go viral’. While there isn’t any magic secret to accomplishing this, there are a few things that can help – namely, making it as easy as possible for your users to sign up, and helping them invite their friends. But this is easier said than done, and determining exactly how to implement these seemingly obvious steps can play a huge role in a site’s success.

Product Planner, a new site that launched this week, is looking to help companies tackle this issue. The site has visually mapped out over 100 ‘flows’ that visually depict exactly how many of the web’s most popular services operate. For example, Gmail’s signup flow consists of inviting a vistitor to first click ‘Sign Up for Gmail’, followed by a form asking for information, and finally a confirmation button that says ‘show me my account’. It may sound simple, but being able to see each of these side by side can be invaluable when it comes to actually building your site.

Flows are represented as a series of screenshots, arranged in either a circular or linear fashion, depending on how they work (hint: the key to going viral is to create a circular loop). And while many of these ‘flows’ are focused on the site’s all-important signup and invite processes, other flows are more site-specific, like Vimeo’s Video Embed Loop.

The site looks great, with an intutive interface and clean navigation. Users can grab embed codes for Flows that they’d like to share elsewhere, and can also submit their own, though the site already features many of the web’s most popular sites.

That said, the site isn’t perfect. My biggest issue with Product Planner is that there are really no explanations to speak of – you’d never know why one ‘flow’ was better than the others. Granted, you can always pay attention to flows from large companies like Google and Facebook with the expectation that they’ve put a lot of thought into these things, but it’s still tough to figure out exactly why something is working. There aren’t any comments either, which could have also helped users make sense of what they’re looking at (of course, there’s always the risk that people who don’t know what they’re talking about would leave incorrect information).

Product Planner is a product of KISSmetrics, an analytics service that will be launching later this year.

Disclosure: Neil Patel, one of the founders of KISSmetrics, does consulting for TechCrunch through Quick Sprout.