Design for Flow

D114df717ae54b93a64b0d90e3020e11?s=47 Kshitiz Anand
October 25, 2013

Design for Flow

Flow, a mental state, first proposed by psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi; is characterized by a distorted sense of time, a lack of self-consciousness, and complete engagement in the task at hand. Often measured as a function of the emotional outcome, Flow is a useful tool to understand User Experience.

These are the slides of my talk at the UX India conference, held in Bangalore, at IIM Bangalore campus, October 24th-26th


Kshitiz Anand

October 25, 2013


  1. DESIGN FOR FLOW @kshitiz #uxindia13 Talk delivered at UX India

    Conference, October 25th, 2013
  2. Currently I head : INDIA STUDIO! Otherwise I have a

    few startup initiatives
  3. None
  4. Origin of this term?

  5. None
  6. Marcus Arelius in his writings 'the Meditations’, wrote a lot

    about the flow of thoughts and happiness and he concluded that "most things flow naturally" and in his opinion it was better to "Go with the Flow" than to try and change society.
  7. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Hungarian, Professor of psychology Today we are going

    to speak about
  8. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi How do you say his name?

  9. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Me-high Chick-sent-me-high

  10. FLOW The psychology of optimal experience

  11. FLOW The psychology of optimal experience His most famous work

    Was done to study happiness in people
  12. People who learn to control inner experience will be able

    to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy. - M Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, 1990
  13. Good UX à Happy people

  14. Design for people, emotions, behaviors. Do not design for technology

  15. But its easier said than done… So let us go

    a bit deeper into understanding this
  16. What actually goes on in the human mind, when we

    are looking at designing for happiness
  17. Going from this

  18. To this

  19. Look into a cognitive, psychological & behavioral understanding of what

    builds a good UX  
  20. Our mental and emotional states M Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow, 1997

  21. These states are controlled by CONSCIOUSNESS

  22. These states are controlled by CONSCIOUSNESS What is CONSCIOUSNESS ?

  23. CONSCIOUSNESS is a Phenomenological construct

  24. It is dependent on phenomena : Subjective experiences of the

  25. Order in the Consciousness à GOOD UX Disorder in the

    Consciousness à BAD UX
  26. MASTERY OVER CONSCIOUSNESS à HAPPINESS Mastery of the Consciousness à

  27. More than anything else, men and women seek happiness -

    Socrates, 2300 years ago
  28. Optimal experience depends upon ability to control what happens in

    the consciousness each moment
  29. How does Consciousness work? How is it controlled?

  30. CONSCIOUSNESS : Where pain and pleasure both reside

  31. Users actions are based on INSTINCT : What we feel

    is right, the inner voice
  32. Information theory helps in understanding what really happens in the

  33. What interests us, is how sensory data (what we experience

    through our senses) are collected processed, stored and used
  34. Consciousness is a place for ordered information à Responds to

    subjectively experienced reality
  35. The consciousness processes INFORMATION BITS

  36. COGNITIVE LOAD : Too much information to process à Leads

    to CHAOS
  37. CHAOS creates DISCONTENT: facilitated by chronic dissatisfaction and anxiety

  38. OVERCOMING the anxiety : RECLAIMING the experience

  39. But not everything we are presented with, is processed by

    the Consciousness
  40. The processing of information by the Consciousness is INTENTION

  41. Our INTENTIONs decide the ATTENTION spans and time we give

    to a task
  42. But there are limits of Consciousness : How much information

    bits can the human mind (central nervous system) process ?
  43. Shortest time it takes to discriminate between one set of

    information bit and other is about 1/18th of a second
  44. One can process upto 126 bits of information per second

    = 7560 bits per minute = Almost half a million per hour = 185 billion bits of information in a lifetime * * Assumption: Lifespan = 70years, and 16 hours or active waking time each days
  45. 185 billion bits of information in a lifetime !!!! Seems

    a lot, but it is not! To understand what the other person is saying, 40 bits of information are processed each second.
  46. Information is processed by the consciousness because we give it

  47. ATTENTION is Psychic energy, that decides what information bits need

    to be processed and tells the consciousness what to do
  48. The more you complicate the information, the more difficulty the

    consciousness has in processing it!
  49. COMPLEXITY is a result of differentiation and Integration in Information.

    Differentiation à Move towards uniqueness Integration à Union of old vs new, other ideas, preconceived impressions
  50. COMPLEXITY à Disorder in Consciousness We call it PSYCHIC ENTROPY

  51. Removing Psychic Entropy in Consciousness, is optimal experience and it

    leads to FLOW

  53. HOW ?

  54. None
  55. Takeaway #1 Think about the Consciousness when you design

  56. Takeaway #2 The goal is mastery of this consciousness through

    design decisions
  57. Takeaway #3 How can you control the users intentions? Design

    for it.
  58. Takeaway #4 Think on how much attention should be given

    to each task?
  59. Takeaway #5 Think about Information Bits that the consciousness is

  60. Takeaway #6 Reduce cognitive load to remove Chaos in consciousness

  61. Takeaway #7 Avoid Complexity and reduce Psychic entropy

  62. Takeaway #8 Overcome anxiety of the customer!

  63. Takeaway #9 Help them reclaim the experience

  64. Takeaway #10 Spread Happiness J

  65. THANK YOU! Go with the flow! Connect with me on