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We need to introduce some control in a very extensive process that is completed in different days.

Today these processes are divided into different sections / modules. Each section is a screen on a web page.

We need to group all those screens in a main section that contains the different sections and screens corresponding to that flow. (like creating a large flow but in different modules).

Some of the sections cannot be executed, without the previous one being completed. How can we keep track of that process?

Is it a good practice to lock points in the menu and unlock them as the previous points have been completed?

Is it better to unify all modules in one wizard with more than 12 steps?

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    Could you please clarify term 'screen on a web page'? As for 'lock points' it's usual in Multi-page or Multi-step forms. Do you need something other than such a form?
    – Serg
    May 17, 2021 at 10:43
  • I mean that although it is a quite extensive process, this process is divided into different sections in the information architecture and each section has a different objective (importing data into a table, cross-referencing data, extracting lists, etc.).
    – Maria M.
    May 19, 2021 at 11:56

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Grouping Sections into a Single Workflow

A wizard tool does exactly what you are requesting. Below is the definition by the NN Group (emphasis is theirs):

Definition: A wizard is a step-by-step process that allows users to input information in a prescribed order and in which subsequent steps may depend on information entered in previous ones.

Here is the full article. They have suggestions on when to use a wizard, how to make a wizard usable, and the shortcomings of the wizard tool: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/wizards/

"How can We Keep Track of that Process"

You use a step indicator. This is a tool that shows a user how many steps (or sections) exist in the form. It also gives an indication of the order of the steps and how far a user has come. Below is an example of a wizard step indicator.

enter image description here

The above image indicates the user is on step 3 and has successfully complete the "personal information" and "contact information" step. You may want to include a "Lock" icon/signifier to steps in your wizard. Users may desire to fill out information out of order and a lock will indicate that this is not an option.

"Is it Good Practice to Lock Points?"

Yes, this is common practice and a good one depending on the type of input required. The wizard workflow (and progressive disclosure in general) are used to lock certain inputs until the prerequisite inputs are provided. Think of an online tax form: it will expect you to answer "Do you have your own business?" before it will show you the section for self-employment.

The trick with locking elements is to balance the need for prerequisites with the user's desire for control of the system; mainly their ability to change answers. Always allow the user to go back and change a prerequisite input, even if it locks or unlocks a section they have already completed.

Also, avoid locking unless it is necessary. A user should be able to complete inputs as they see fit. Sometimes they may only have some of the info available. Sometimes they may be thinking in a different order than the form. Locking should be a necessity, not a default behavior of the UI.

Is it better to unify all modules in one wizard with more than 12 steps?

This largely depends on the type of input you are collecting. Wizards go step by step for completing multiple inputs that can be ordered by a group. If the inputs are not related to each other, then a wizard is a poor choice.

Determining the number of steps depends a lot on the context. Steps should be relatively easy to complete; the whole reason for steps is to break up a much longer form. Steps should be grouped by context. A random grouping is likely to confuse and will increase the odds of input errors. (Use usability testing or a card sort exercise to determine the appropriate groupings).

The more steps the less likely a user will begin, but it depends on their task. An online tax form with many steps can be acceptable if the user understands that these steps will simplify the complex process. Even 4 steps to an newsletter sign-up form or a "short survey" can dissuade users from even beginning the wizard as it indicates a decent time investment for little value to the end user.

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  • thank you very much for your reply. But what arises the doubt in my mind, is that being a process that can be done in 3 days a wizard can be a little messy. Unless you can save the data and continue where the process left off, right?
    – Maria M.
    May 19, 2021 at 11:58
  • Yes, @MariaM. there would need to be some way to save the process as it is completed for several days. This may be saved in a way that multiple people would be doing this process or progress can be saved per the individual user. Comes down to the type of task being performed.
    – Benjamin S
    May 19, 2021 at 16:23
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If your process has non-linear workflow and allows asynchronous steps you may find it helpful to use the chart visualization tools. There are many types of charts available so you can find most appropriate to your task. As well as there are many free or commercial tools available for different chart types.

Just as example take a look at Google Charts - there are many chart types in one place to help you make decision. Depending on your process you may find useful to use one of the following:

Each chart element may represent single section / module which could be exapndable to your current models web-page. You may use element's attributes to visualize sections summary in a way that will best represents process's current status and further steps.

Something like this in case of author's example of Gantt Chart:

enter image description here

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