Live blogging from IAS 10 — Designing for emotion and flow
By Adil Wali , 11th Apr 2010

I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on some really interesting sessions here at IASummit 2010.  I have never tried to liveblog from a conference before, but why not start now?

Here are my notes from the “Designing for Emotion and Flow” talk by Trevor van Gorp (@trevvg)

  • It’s important to take into account emotional states when you are designing a user experience.
  • There are two core dimensions of thinking about emotional states, for the sake of this talk:
    • Anxiety <–> Boredom
    • Unpleasant <–>Pleasant
  • Attention and arousal are directly linked.  Higher contrast designs drive higher arousal.
  • Somewhere between anxiety and boredom lays flow.  If it’s too challenging, people will be anxious.  Too easy, they will be bored.
  • Time and intent are the things that separate emotion from personality.
  • Novice users are focused on tasks that are less challenging.  They are more exploratory and less goal-oriented.
  • Experienced users, however, want more challenging and goal directed use.  They are less exploratory.   The greater the challenge, the more arousal.
  • You must match perceived challenge to the skill level of user.  This is the proper way to get the right sense of engagement.
  • You should focus on core elements that foster flow:
    • Clear navigation
    • Immediate feedback for as many user actions as are relevant
    • Balance the perception of challenge with the user’s skill level.  (Are they just surfing or are they trying to accomplish something?)
  • Adaptable interfaces can help drive the balance piece.  Users can choose the interface to suit their desired level of challenge.

Overall, I thought this talk was pretty interesting, but the slides pushed through a little fast.  I hope Trevor posts slides online!

About the Author

Hi, I’m Adil Wali. I became a Microsoft certified professional at age 14 and started my first web development company. That led to a career as a serial entrepreneur, advisor, and startup investor. I got my first “real job” at 33, and I’m now a FinTech executive with a passion for the markets.