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Enabling Flow with Web Design

As you have seen, flow occurs under a limited set of circumstances. Users can experience flow only if their trips through cyberspace feel seamless, with fast response, immediate feedback, and few distractions. Users who experience flow feel their skills match available challenges. To enable flow, make sure your site has the following traits:

  • Speed—Interactive speed is a significant factor in all models of user satisfaction. Make your pages load quickly and minimize the variability of delay. Be especially careful to avoid sluggish response after your pages have loaded.

  • Feedback—Provide fast, unambiguous feedback for user input and the following elements:

    • Links (include hover, visited, and active styles)

    • Navigation widgets (menus, etc.)

    • Display performance variables (server load, cache state, page/file sizes, download progress bars)

  • Clear navigation—Include signposts—such as site maps, breadcrumb trails, and "you are here" landmarks—to help visitors find their way so they can easily form a mental model of your site.

  • Match challenges to skills—Offer an adaptable/adjustable interface that gives users control over their environment's complexity that is appropriate to their skill level. Stage their experience. Make it easy at first, but offer more complex challenges as users gain experience.

  • Simplicity—Uncluttered layout and minimal features reduce the attention load.

  • Importance—Make your offerings appear important and credible with professional design, impressive clients, and outside recognition.

  • Design for fun and utility—Offer a rich yet responsive experience, plus tools to help users accomplish their goals quickly and easily.

  • Avoid cutting-edge technology—Cutting-edge technology gets in the way of user goals. Research shows that users don't want it; they just want to get their information.

  • Minimize animation—It distracts users, who often have limited attention.

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