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Why put usability first


With web design, when you think of flow we usually mean "task flows" or "flow charts" but there's a different kind of flow that you have to consider. It's that feeling of total absorption when you're doing stuff you love to do and are not disturbed by anxiety or boredom caused by tasks that are misdirecting, repetitive or overly taxing.
Flow, as a mental condition, was first proposed by psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and is described by a incorrect sense of time, a lack of self-consciousness, and total engagement in the task at hand. Software engineers often experience it when they're writing code, gamers do feel it when playing Guitar Hero III, Christopher Cross felt it when he went sailing. For design artists, it's just the feeling we want to achieve in the users of our site.
How do we create sites that inspire that feeling? Well, it begins with a page that sorts out a challenging problem and is complicated enough to require a certain degree of learning by the user. The purpose should not necessarily be to design a simple page. The goal should be to create a page that feels painless to navigate no matter how complex it actually is. However, you might be thinking, hasn't there been a usability movement in web design over the last couple of years? Yes, but there's a learning curve for any site that want to solve a complex problem. We shouldn't mix simplicity with a desire to avoid excessive complexity.
The way to make the complex feel painless is to consider flow in your design. By developing a page that is smooth and intuitive and engages flow, you help people get up-to-speed in a shorter time, reduce the chance that current users leave your site and switch to a different one and create users that evangelize your site to other people. That way you will get more users, increased activity, and bigger awareness of your page.
The first step in designing for flow is to determine clear goals for your future users. It's important to develop both an overarching goal along with smaller, staged goals. Goals help users understand what is their final destination and what steps they'll take to get there.



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