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Crafting Fun User Experiences: A Method to Facilitate Flow

HFI white paper – A conversation with Owen Schaffer

In this white paper, Owen Schaffer, Lead Usability Analyst at HFI, gives practical advice about techniques and tools that will keep your users engaged and coming back. Using examples from his research on online games and e-commerce sites, Owen shows how gamification methods can be universally applied to B2B and B2C systems to increase satisfaction and efficiency. He discusses:

  • The emotional engagement part of persuasive design
  • The definition and importance of “flow”
  • Using persuasive design to create flow experiences
  • Techniques and tools for measuring flow
  • 5 steps you can take to engineer designs that facilitate flow

“Making designs more fun is a key strategy that allows companies to engage their customers and give them an experience that will have them wanting to come back again and again. There are many different kinds of fun, but the fun of enjoying doing something for its own sake must be our top priority if we want to make designs that people will want to use. Positive psychologists call this ‘flow’.”


Owen Schaffer is an expert in user research, applying psychology and human-computer interaction research to making designs more engaging, usable, and enjoyable. He received his Master’s in Positive Organizational Psychology and Evaluation from Claremont Graduate University. He studied positive psychology and flow with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, co-founder of the field of positive psychology and author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Working with Csikszentmihalyi, he developed measures of flow and the conditions that get players into flow. Owen has presented at conferences and universities, including Peking University, UX Week, and the Top 100 case study conference.

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