Stepper: Streamlining Complex User Flows in UX Design

A stepper, also known as a wizard or multi-step form, is a UI component that breaks down complex tasks into a series of manageable steps. Steppers guide users through processes such as form filling, setup wizards, or onboarding sequences, making the experience more intuitive and less overwhelming. By providing clear progress indicators and segmentation, steppers enhance usability and ensure users can complete tasks efficiently.

What is a Stepper?

A stepper is a user interface element that divides a process into distinct steps, displaying each step in sequence. Users can navigate through each step, often seeing progress indicators that show their current position and how much is left to complete. Steppers can be linear, requiring users to complete steps in a specific order, or non-linear, allowing users to navigate freely between steps.

Importance of Steppers in UX Design

  1. Improved Usability: Breaking down complex processes into smaller, manageable steps reduces cognitive load and makes tasks easier to understand and complete.
  2. Clear Progress Indicators: Steppers provide visual feedback on progress, reducing uncertainty and helping users stay informed about their position in the process.
  3. Error Reduction: By guiding users through each step, steppers help prevent errors and ensure that users provide all necessary information before moving forward.
  4. Enhanced User Experience: Steppers create a more organized and structured experience, leading to higher user satisfaction and engagement.
  5. Flexibility: Non-linear steppers allow users to navigate between steps as needed, offering flexibility and control over the process.

Key Elements of an Effective Stepper

  1. Progress Indicators: Visual indicators such as numbers, checkmarks, or progress bars that show the user’s current step and overall progress.
  2. Step Titles: Clear and concise titles for each step to help users understand the purpose and content of each section.
  3. Navigation Controls: Buttons or links to move forward and backward through the steps, providing users with control over their progress.
  4. Completion Indicators: Visual cues, such as checkmarks or highlighted steps, to indicate completed steps and guide users through the remaining ones.
  5. Error Handling: Inline validation and error messages to inform users of any issues within a step, preventing them from moving forward until corrections are made.

Best Practices for Designing Steppers

  1. Keep It Simple: Ensure each step focuses on a single task or piece of information to avoid overwhelming users with too much at once.
  2. Provide Clear Instructions: Offer clear and concise instructions or hints within each step to guide users and prevent confusion.
  3. Maintain Consistency: Use consistent design patterns, language, and navigation controls throughout the stepper to create a cohesive experience.
  4. Use Visual Feedback: Employ visual feedback such as animations or progress bars to make the process engaging and informative.
  5. Test and Iterate: Conduct usability testing to gather feedback on the stepper’s effectiveness and iterate based on user insights.

Tools for Creating Steppers

  1. Design Software: Tools like Sketch, Adobe XD, and Figma allow designers to create and prototype steppers with interactive elements and progress indicators.
  2. Front-End Frameworks: Frameworks like Bootstrap and Material-UI provide pre-designed stepper components that can be customized and integrated into web projects.
  3. Prototyping Tools: InVision and Marvel enable designers to build interactive prototypes of steppers and test user flows in a realistic context.
  4. JavaScript Libraries: Libraries like React and Vue.js offer components and plugins to create dynamic and responsive steppers.
  5. Usability Testing Platforms: Platforms like UserTesting and Lookback facilitate remote usability testing to gather feedback on stepper design and functionality.

Real-World Examples

  1. E-commerce Checkout: Amazon uses a stepper in its checkout process to guide users through steps like shipping information, payment details, and order review.
  2. Account Setup: LinkedIn’s account setup wizard uses a stepper to help new users complete their profiles, ensuring all necessary information is provided.
  3. Form Submission: Tax filing websites like TurboTax use steppers to break down the complex process of filing taxes into manageable sections.
  4. Onboarding: Slack’s onboarding process for new users uses a stepper to introduce key features and settings, helping users get started quickly.
  5. Software Installation: Adobe Creative Cloud uses a stepper in its software installation process, guiding users through license agreements, installation options, and setup.


Steppers are an essential tool in UX design for simplifying complex user flows and enhancing usability. By breaking tasks into manageable steps, providing clear progress indicators, and guiding users through each stage, steppers create a more organized and user-friendly experience. Implementing best practices and leveraging the right tools ensures that steppers are effective, engaging, and contribute positively to the overall user experience.

Ondrej Zoricak
Ondrej Zoricak