Imagine yourself on a track. It can be an ordinary morning workout or you’re getting ready for a competition. With every step, you become stronger and closer to your goal. You may be extremely tired, but it doesn’t matter. You are motivated by the process, not the finish line.

What does that mean? As you run, everything else blurs. You don’t notice the time. You’re absolutely focused and calm. You are in the flow.

We all have experienced that flow while doing something we’re really into, whether it’s music or a sports activity. You can also get into that mode when a task or job requires most of your skills.

Your flow is your own world. All of your attention is focused on the task in front of you. Outside motivation is no longer needed. You can do more than you normally do and it brings you absolute pleasure.

So, what does all this psychology babble have to with product design? Simple: A well-designed product helps a person find a flow.

Products and programs are created to help us with everyday life. And all useful tools have one common feature: we don’t notice it when we use them. It just feels natural to use them. This relates to anything: a graphics editor, a text messenger or a badminton racket.

Of course, you can’t avoid difficulties, but they should be caused by the type of the task and not by the tool you use to get this task done. Playing badminton against a strong opponent is hard but fascinating; playing badminton with a racket with loose strings is hard and frustrating. Your product should help people solve problems, not cause them.

Cut the semantic gap.

It may sound complicated but it is very simple. You just need to communicate with your customer using their language. To shorten the semantic gap, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to look at your product from their point of view.

Listen to your customers! If some time ago you deleted some features, but your customers want them back – take heed. After all, it’s them who are using your product – not you.

Don’t overload your customers.

Your program won’t succeed if it requires many extra actions. Make everything as clear and simple as you can so that it won’t annoy the user and instead, help them get in the flow.

E-mail service Mail Pilot allows users to set up a notification with one click and no other extra manipulations. Here’s how it works:

Throttle also uses this principle and cuts the time and effort needed to set up a new e-mail.  It automatically generates a new e-mail with a special browser extension. The user just has to click the “submit” button.

Create a simple interface

We all love surprises, right? But this is not a good place for them. REALLY. Your customers want as simple and predictable tool as it can be. A good tool makes you focus on your task and not on managing the tool. Get the statistics, analyze the feedback and make your product better and better.

Show that the product helps in reaching goals

When you see an actual goal, you start planning your way to it. Slowly but surely, you will start getting in the flow. However, if you don’t believe that a goal is achievable, you won’t take any action.

13 015 e-mails? No, thanks.

Mail Pilot solved this problem by showing the number of messages received during the day. Reading 7 of today’s messages and 19 from yesterday becomes a manageable task.

Eliminate distractions

Every day, we are bombarded with a ton of information, most of which turns out to be absolutely useless to us. Help your customers separate what they need from what is just clutter, and you will succeed.

This is how Mail Pilot does it:

Regular Inbox Vs Focused Inbox

On the right, you can see how the app highlights the message sent by a real person. Messages with advertisements from different companies are visually put in the background.

Throttle went further. Instead of “patterning” ad messages, it just doesn’t allow them to reach the user’s mailbox.

Throttle also has a preliminary review function, which allows person to see the main idea of the message and decide whether it’s something important or not.

Communicate with your customers

Prompt feedback is one of the best ways to win customers. If your tool has a feedback function, never underestimate its power and try to interact as often as you can.

Make navigation simple

This is especially important for mobile app developers. While PC users can get used to complicated navigation, mobile devices users aren’t either ready or willing to do that.  Mail Pilot lets you go back to the inbox anytime with just one click.

Take a look:

Throttle offers a special tab where you can see only new e-mails:

A good navigation system can always answer these 3 questions from the user:

  • Where am I now?
  • Where can I go from here?
  • What can I find in the place I’m going to?


Thinking of a new product? Figure out not only what people need but how they will feel using it. Psychology in product design can lead you to success.