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.
UXINDIA13 Conference Presentation
Talk delivered at UX India Conference,
October 25th, 2013
Currently I head :
Otherwise I have a few startup initiatives
Origin of this term?
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.
Hungarian, Professor of psychology
Today we are going to speak about
How do you say his name?
His most famous work
Was done to study happiness in people
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
Good UX à Happy people
Design for people, emotions, behaviors.
Do not design for technology
But its easier said than done…
So let us go a bit deeper into understanding this
What actually goes on in the human mind,
when we are looking at designing for happiness
Going from this
a cognitive, psychological
of what builds a good UX
Our mental and emotional states
M Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow, 1997
These states are controlled by
These states are controlled by
What is CONSCIOUSNESS ?
CONSCIOUSNESS is a
It is dependent on phenomena :
Subjective experiences of the individual
Order in the Consciousness à GOOD UX
Disorder in the Consciousness à BAD UX
MASTERY OVER CONSCIOUSNESS à HAPPINESS
Mastery of the Consciousness à Happiness
More than anything else, men and women seek happiness
- Socrates, 2300 years ago
depends upon ability
to control what
happens in the
How does Consciousness work?
How is it controlled?
Where pain and pleasure both reside
Users actions are based on INSTINCT :
What we feel is right, the inner voice
Information theory helps
in understanding what
really happens in the
What interests us, is how
sensory data (what we
experience through our
senses) are collected
processed, stored and
Consciousness is a place for ordered
information à Responds to subjectively
The consciousness processes
COGNITIVE LOAD : Too much information
to process à Leads to CHAOS
CHAOS creates DISCONTENT: facilitated
by chronic dissatisfaction and anxiety
OVERCOMING the anxiety :
RECLAIMING the experience
But not everything we are presented with, is
processed by the Consciousness
The processing of information by the
Consciousness is INTENTION
Our INTENTIONs decide the ATTENTION
spans and time we give to a task
But there are limits of Consciousness :
How much information bits can the human
mind (central nervous system) process ?
Shortest time it takes to
discriminate between one
set of information bit and
other is about 1/18th of a
One can process upto 126
bits of information per
= 7560 bits per minute
= Almost half a million per hour
= 185 billion bits of information in a
* Assumption: Lifespan = 70years, and 16 hours or active waking time each days
185 billion bits of information in a
Seems a lot, but it is not!
To understand what the other person
is saying, 40 bits of information are
processed each second.
Information is processed by the consciousness
because we give it ATTENTION
ATTENTION is Psychic energy, that decides
what information bits need to be processed and
tells the consciousness what to do
The more you complicate the information,
the more difficulty the consciousness has in
COMPLEXITY is a result of
differentiation and Integration
Move towards uniqueness
Union of old vs new, other ideas,
COMPLEXITY à Disorder in Consciousness
We call it PSYCHIC ENTROPY
Removing Psychic Entropy in Consciousness,
is optimal experience and it leads to FLOW
DESIGNING FOR FLOW = BETTER UX
Think about the Consciousness
when you design
The goal is mastery of this
consciousness through design
How can you control the users
intentions? Design for it.
Think on how much attention
should be given to each task?
Think about Information Bits that
the consciousness is processing
Reduce cognitive load to remove
Chaos in consciousness
Avoid Complexity and reduce
Overcome anxiety of the customer!
Help them reclaim the experience
Spread Happiness J
Go with the flow!
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