Psychology pt1. On-boarding & Flow

Every mobile app has a common objective, that is to on-board user and retain them. It has never been more important to create an engaging experiences for a user and to begin habit building for the user.

Nowadays most of peoples time on mobile is spent using mobile apps (Colwyn, 2014). In addition, the average number of apps a user has installed on their phone is 27 (Rosoff, n.d.). However, research tells that users focus the most time on their most important apps and that 80% of all app usage is done with only 3 apps (Dogtiev, 2015).

It’s imperative that consideration is given how to the product can grab and keep the user’s attention especially in the distraction contexts that mobile users are often in such as the daily commute.

There are a number of methods that can be used to encourage engagement in an app. For this project I will focus on the following:

  • User Flow
  • User on-boarding


Flow can be described as ‘condition of deep, nearly meditative involvement’ (Logue, 2016). Apps that are designed for productivity, engagement and efficiency must ensure the user is in focus or flow. Cooper also advises that a sense of flow can be created when the interaction with the product become transparent and suggests that ‘ultimate user interface’ is one that has no interface (Cooper et al. 2014).

A state of optimal experience, where people are so engaged in the activity they’re doing that the rest of the world falls away
(Csikszentmihalyi, 2002)

Dana Chisnell suggests that creating designs that are pleasurable to use are perceived as being more trustworthy, and more personal. In addition, Chisnell (2011) asserts that flow is a feeling of mastering a challenge, ‘being in the zone’ or just feeling relaxed or energised.

User on-boarding

User on-boarding the first opportunity to gain a users attention. It’s the first chance the introduce the apps functionality, convince the of the value of this app and demonstrate how it can seamlessly achieve their user goals while getting then into that state of flow which will in return help user retention.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There are a number of approaches to on-boarding on but the most popular are:

  • Do something approach
  • ‘Joy riding’ experience
  • ‘Setup approach’
  • Progressive On-boarding

I decided to use a ‘setup approach’ so that we can get 1) get the user up and running quickly and too the user will be asked about notifications early on.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


  1. Chisnell, D. (2011a). Beyond Task Completion: Flow in Design | UX Magazine. Retrieved 19 April 2017, from
  2. Chisnell, D. (2011b, October). Beyond Frustration: Three levels of happy design | UX Magazine. Retrieved 19 April 2017, from
  3. Colwyn, S. (2014, March 13). New consumer media consumption research – Smart Insights Digital Marketing Advice. Retrieved from
  4. Cooper, A., Reimann, R., Cronin, D., & Noessel, C. (2014). About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design, 4th Edition.
  5. Dogtiev, A. (2015, December 14). App Usage Statistics: 2015 Roundup. Retrieved 20 April 2017, from
  6. Logue, G. (2016, November 11). The Role Of Psychology In App Design. Retrieved 20 April 2017, from
  7. Rosoff, M. (2016, May). The app explosion is over. Retrieved 20 April 2017, from


  1. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002). Flow: The Psychology of Happiness: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness (New Ed edition). London: Rider.
  2. Eyal, N. (2014). Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. (R. Hoover, Ed.) (1 edition). New York, New York: Portfolio.
    Cooper, A., Reimann, R., Cronin, D., & Noessel, C. (2014). About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design, 4th Edition.
  3. Anderson, S. P. (2011). Seductive Interaction Design: Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective User Experiences (1 edition). Berkeley, CA: New Riders.