Red routes

Red routes are a matrix which helps prioritise your content and functionality based on usefulness to the most users. They can be particularly helpful when you have 2 equally distinct user groups.

It’s quite a simple exercise that you can do internally with data on an existing app or with user interviews. If your product isn’t live, you can brainstorm with your team.

The set up

Draw an axis of time and an axis of people. For a red route exercise it doesn’t matter which is which, but I usually add time as the x-axis as is convention in other professions. Next draw a grid of 16 squares (4×4).

See below for label axes along with the initial set up. The shading is normally done in red, but can be any colour; this gives a more direct visual clue to a hierarchy of features. Just using lines here is perfectly fine too.

A blank red route matrix


Completing your red route

Next, place your features within the quadrants you’ve created. Ideally you want one in each, but depending on the size and complexity of your app, you could have a few. Those features used by most users most of the time go top right, those used by very few people, very little of the time go bottom left. Everything else fits in between.

And here’s an example of a completed red route with features in for an app I worked on in 2015, which was for both creatives and recruiters. The most used feature by both groups of users is browsing content followed by uploading content (just creatives) and liking a project (both recruiters and creatives). The least used would be messaging creatives, which was a paid option that few people would users some of the time.

A red route completed matrix with features added in appropriate sections