ARTICLE: User Flow Addicts Anonymous

My Name is Todd and it’s been 1 hour since my last flow.
Are you part of UFAA? (“User Flow Addicts Anonymous.”)

I base everything on flow.

I mean everything. I think in flow charts, concept out in flow charts, document ideas in flow charts, make lists in flow charts. I even take notes in flow charts. I have been a part of UFAA since I can remember. I am simply addicted to the order of how things flow. And I do it more and more as my mind tries to manage all the information it takes in each day in a world that often overpowers my senses. And from what I’ve seen and heard – many of you are members of UFAA (User Flow Addicts Anonymous) as well – even if you don’t know or can’t admit it yet.

Come into my office and you’ll see a flip chart with pages of scribbles with boxes, circles, arrows and little legible text.


Look through my note book and you’ll find nearly unreadable flows mapping out everything from how people should interact with an experience or site to what steps I need to take directly after a meeting like follow-ups, resource allocation options and my personal process steps and options. I revel in taking as much information in as I can and then distilling it into if-and-or pathways of options. I even do it to my grocery lists some days.

I have always wanted time to think and respond. I don’t make rash decisions unless there is no other option and I actually really enjoy when those I’m around find a good start but don’t know how to make it better or think of alternate directions – as I have always been better a reactionary brainstorming when I’m at my best.

What is more interesting I find is that it is also how my mind works. I find it take all the information of any situation I face even down to what should I eat or say in a conversation and break down the options before I act. Call it calculative, premeditated, or possibly a bit schizophrenic. But my head is usually filled with my own voice discussing how, when and where to react. A possible benefit as well as potential downside of this is introversion is my need for structure and information before I make a decision, and my analytical habits.In fact, I valued it a lot as it helped clarify much of who I am and how I act. It also clearly helped me understand and rationalize my need to map out things in flows.

Here is an interesting task I did a while back that I encourage everyone to try:
Map out yourself. I called it the UX of Me. Start a flow or series of flows about 3 things; your experience up until now, your process and how you think. It’s a worth experience for anyone to do and has an interesting effect on you as you do it. Here is mine (I’m so into flows I ended up going from a drawing to a semi digital flow to an Invision prototype):

You can view  it at: 

So, knowing this It made me wonder who else is like me?

  • Who else thinks in this way and compartmentalizes their information so granularly into flows whether on paper, in software (lately I have been all about, but I can jump into any flow software with ease for work and mapping out process, functions or experiences), or in their head?
  • Who takes the mind map experience beyond a simple break out of listing (because really all that does is give you an organized hierarch of a list) and gets deeply into flow and order and decisions?
  • What do you practice with or on?
  • And have you expanded beyond work into your daily life as I have over the years, even if it is simply to give you control over things you may not feel in control over?

I would love to hear from all my fellow UFAA members out there…who knows, maybe we’ll need to start a group to help us cope with our inner need to organize everything.