Designing For Flow

by Jim Ramsey

37 Reader Comments

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  1. This is a great informative article, thank you.

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  2. Thanks for the great article. I especially liked the part about discovery. Sometimes designers or developers will want to highlight a new feature real big on the home page, when that feature isn’t the focus of their site. I agree with helping the user continue to discover additional features on the site. The familiar user will notice the small changes and the new user will see that the features are in the right category instead of an out of place focus.

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  3. I found this article to be very informative and should help many webmasters in their future design work

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  4. Perhaps for the only time in my life I can say I was there first – almost. I wrote a dissertation for my Masters Degree on ‘The Application of the Psychological Theory of Flow to User Interface Design’ in June 1995. The dissertation talks about Talligent, Creative Writer, and other applications and companies long gone. The key findings are below. I’ve reflected them against today’s web:
    1). Congruent goals (good user needs assessment balanced with site goals – user experience design)
    2). Timely, relevant feedback (Ajax ahoy!)
    3). Enjoyment (making the task fun, not just the goal achievable
    4). Personalisation (Social networking anyone?)
    5). Modularity (have websites ‘with training wheels’ that can get the user ‘started’ but which can then evolve into more complex, richer beasts. Facebook for example )
    Anyone who’s bothered can badger me for a copy (yeah, don’t all rush a tone)

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  5. Thanks for the insights, Jim.  You’ve managed to encapsulate the essentials in a succinct article.  Good to keep in mind for all future projects. :)

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  6. Great Article, thanks.

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  7. With my background in Graphic Design and Advertisement, the push has always been to guide the reader/viewer to the place you wanted them to land. Even so this holds true in Web Design, the possibilities for discovery has been introduced in a way that was not possible before and makes the game so much bigger… and more fun.

    Thanks for this great article.

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  8. After years of doing the same old thing that the others in my field, (Wedding Photography), are doing with flash, I’ve finally gotten to what I think is the sweet spot with my own site “www.williambayphotography.com”:url for flow.
    Using a full flash site is clunky for myself and my viewers.
    Now allowing the page to span downwards, rather than sitting square in the middle as if a portfolio on an island, I can now add more content. I can have additional features.
    Letting the whole experience flow.
    If any drawbacks, it has forced me to come up with more content. But that of course will be a win-win down the line.

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  9. A lot of web sites are focued on the call-to-action for conversion.  We think the momenumt type calls-to-action help encourage “flow.” Keeping the user smoothly moving through the web site by combining content / design / momentum calls-to-action (not conversion calls-to-action) is the key to the ulimate goal…well, usually in our clients’ case, conversion.

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  10. Very interesting article. Thanks for learning again ;)

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  11. Very interesting article. Thanks for learning again ;)

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  12. I partly decided to come to alistapart.com today to see what colors you use in your design. Have they jumped on the unexplainable so-light-it’s-unreadable text bandwagon? (light grey, blue and orange being the culprits)

    Thank God no!

    And by the way as someone who lives to feel flow, I was glad to find your great article.

    These days there are sites I completely avoid because they cause dissonance for me, they’re so hard to read ( http://www.blackberry.com for one) They cause dissonance and discomfort, not flow.

    I refrained from telling my parents to use Hulu since I didn’t want them complaining they couldn’t see the left nav.
    http://www.hulu.com/recent/videos

    I haven’t seen a lot of discussion on this design trend but hope the Internet’s design leaders can influence a return to beautiful but usable design much like your site, wordpress.com, and others that “get” usability over “lightness” or “elegance” or whatever the perceived design goals are for invisible text.

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  13. Thanks for this article. I am new to the design side of things but have been doing SEO for about 6 years and this article was very helpful in learning about design flow.  Will be back.

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  14. I love this article!

    Thanks Jim.

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  15. Interesting article, there should be more articles to help designers design for flow…

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  16. Thank you for the helpful article. I found a site that takes the the work out of creating online forms:
    http://www.elbowspace.com

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  17. Thank you for your interesting article, Jim.
    I found plenty of useful stuff.
    But I’s like to admit that when I tried different formbuilders, it seemed to me that the most easy to use is a program created by PHP Forms developers. Well it is a metter of everyone to chose.

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