• Product

  • Solutions

  • Templates

  • Learn

  • Pricing

Everything You Need to Know About Use Case Diagrams

By Jennifer Gaskin, Nov 16, 2021

use case diagram

Organizations that regularly interact with their customers need to have ways of visualizing those processes and describing how exactly the interaction should go. Borrowing from the software programming industry, building a use case diagram is an excellent way to do this.

Let’s explore what you need to know about use case diagrams and how they can help keep everything straight in your company’s systems and processes, then start creating one using Venngage Use Case Diagram Maker.

 

Click to jump ahead:

What is a use case diagram?

Use case diagrams visualize the interactions a user or customer could have with a system. Formerly used only in computer programming, use case diagrams have become popular in the retail and customer service industries to explain how customers interact with a business.

What is a use case diagram used for?

While they are still primarily used for computer programming and other technical fields, use case diagrams have gained wider use in other business areas, and many organizations create use case diagrams to help them visualize all the ways a person might interact with their company.

In a business context, organizations can create use case diagrams or illustrations to visualize their sales and marketing flow, describe typical interactions with their technology or applications or analyze a complex workflow.

use case diagram
 

This use case diagram, for example, makes sense of the often-chaotic process of running a restaurant, with the many moving parts that go into creating a seamless experience for diners.

Interested in diagramming? Learn about all the diagrams you can create with Venngage.

Return to Table of Contents

What are the 4 main components of a use case diagram?

The four elements of a use case diagram are:

  • System
  • Actors
  • Use cases
  • Relationships

In other words, a use case diagram should visualize a reason (use case) why an individual (actor) would interact with your organization (system) and the relationships between the business and the individuals.

Use case diagrams can be simple in how they visualize these four elements, as in the example below that describes why (use cases) two types of customers (actors) might interact with a bank (system) and the relationships that result.

use case diagram
 

These types of diagrams can also be complicated and describe many types of functions that may or may not always take place in the course of an individual’s relationship with a system. This example illustrates some use cases that will always occur and some that may occur.

use case diagram
 

Use case diagrams not right for your needs? Try a flowchart instead. Also check out our collection of 20+ flowchart templates and examples professionally designed for you.

Return to Table of Contents

How do you create a use case diagram?

First, you need to organize your four key elements — system, actors, use cases and relationships. Then, arrange them visually in a way that makes sense and will allow you to see immediately the connections between them.

Some use case diagrams also establish certain steps that may need to be a part of every use case in question or only some; it’s typical to use the terms “include” or “extend” to do this, as in the example below.

use case diagram
 

Here’s a good primer to help you understand the difference:

  • Extend: When describing an ATM use case, you would use an exclude line or connection a conditional scenario, say, if a user doesn’t bank with that institution normally and must pay a fee to withdraw cash.
  • Include: In our ATM use case example, this could apply to a user putting their card into the machine, entering their PIN and being shown a menu.

In other words, interactions that always happen should be described with an include notation, while those that may happen under certain conditions should be described with an extend notation.

How to create a use case diagram using Venngage

It could be difficult to create a use case diagram from scratch, and most diagram makers don’t allow you to create robust, eye-catching diagrams that are visually pleasing while still delivering the message you want.

Instead, choose a Venngage use case diagram template and edit it using our smart diagram editor. It’s easy to get started and design your use case diagram in just 5 steps:

Step 1: Register for a FREE Venngage account.

register for Venngage

Step 2: Choose the use case diagram template you want. Aside from the templates above, we offer some more examples you can explore right down below.

You can also choose the template from our diagram template library:

Step 3: Customize your diagram using our smart editor. Add text, delete and move nodes around easily.

diagram-hero

Step 4: Add some pizzazz to your diagrams using icons and illustrations. We offer 40,000+ icons and illustrations, over 2000 of which are diverse icons.

Venngage how to replace icons

Make sure your diagrams have your brand colors, logos and fonts as well by using My Brand Kit:

Venngage my brand kit

Step 5: Share a public link for free or upgrade to download. You can export your diagram in PNG, PDF or even as a .pptx file to use on PowerPoint or Google Slides.

Venngage download

Return to Table of Contents

Use case diagram examples

Let’s check out some additional use case diagrams that may help inspire you to come up with a new way to visualize an internal process or customer interaction with your organization.

This business use case diagram illustrates a contract management system using the extend/include function to explain processes that happen with each customer and ones that may happen, though not in every case.

use case diagram
 

In this use case diagram, we see the simpler method to describing a series of interactions two different customers can have with a bank (and a banking employee). This type of diagram is appropriate for comparing these customers with each other and not necessarily visualizing every possible interaction they could have with the employee.

use case diagram
 

Going back to our ATM example, this use case diagram illustrates interactions that occur for each individual (bank customer and administrator) and ones that only occur for some (a customer entering a bad PIN). This type of use case diagram would be useful for organizations that need to visualize multiple types of actors on a single diagram.

use case diagram
 

This use case diagram visualizes interactions a customer could have with their travel agent, including some that occur every time (include) and some that occur under certain conditions (extend). Notably, this use case diagram also illustrates how the agent then interacts with two other systems, airline and touring companies, making it ideal for processes involving third-party vendors.

use case diagram
 

Return to Table of Contents

FAQs about use case diagrams

What is UML?

Use case diagrams are not unrelated to UML, which stands for Unified Modeling Language, which is popular in software engineering. In UML, engineers can create many types of diagrams to help them understand and accurately program a variety of information and interactions.

UML has two broad categories of diagrams, structural and behavioral, and use case diagrams fall into the second category. That’s because they describe the behavior of the individual user as it relates to the system in question.

How do you explain UML diagrams?

UML diagrams are a method of creating a visual representation of a system, including actors, actions, roles, classes and more, in order to better understand or document functions and information about a system.

How are UML and use case diagrams different?

Some UML diagrams are use case diagrams, but not all use case diagrams are created under the UML model, and there are many more types of diagrams that can help support a UML-based methodology.

Here are just a few of the types of diagrams possible with UML:

Structural

  • Class diagram
  • Component diagram
  • Composite structure diagram
  • Deployment diagram
  • Object diagram
  • Package diagram
  • Profile diagram

Behavioral

  • Activity diagram
  • Communications diagram
  • Interaction overview diagram
  • Sequence diagram
  • State diagram
  • Timing diagram
  • Use case diagram

Return to Table of Contents

In summary: Create a use case diagram to help your organization visualize important processes and relationships

With Venngage Diagram Maker, you can create a use case diagram in just a few steps, ensuring that it follows your brand guidelines with a couple of clicks. Our diagram templates are created by professional designers with you in mind, so you can easily edit them even if you don’t have much design experience. It’s free to get started.

 
TAGS:
About Jennifer Gaskin

A veteran of newsrooms and agencies, Jennifer Gaskin is a writer, editor and designer who is the only living person not to have strong feelings on the Oxford comma. She's an award-winning practitioner of journalism and information design who spent the better part of a decade as the creative director of a digital marketing shop. As a writer, Jennifer contributes to a variety of publications while working with clients as well as taking on her own projects.