Aug 12, 2010
I think your right on that solid and engaging workflows are the key to successful user applications. As an example, consider this site (stackoverflow) which has an engaging and simple workflow around questions. It’s a great example. I have been thinking a lot about this as well. Let me point you to a couple resources. One is a fantastic article by Bret Victor, now of Apple. http://worrydream.com/MagicInk/. It is about software design as information design. This is a different idea than workflow but I think it boils down to the same thing, giving users meaning information graphics that they can act upon easily and answers their top questions. Read that article, it might change your perspective of software, it did mine. Second, is the concept of flow (work flow right?) that is used in game programming. Consider these core ideas from http://www.jenovachen.com/flowingames/flowtheory.htm:
We are up to the activity.
We are able to concentrate on the activity.
The activity has clear goals.
The activity has direct feedback.
We feel that we control the activity.
Our worries and concerns disappear.
Our subjective experience of time is altered.
These sound like ingredients of a great workflow to me.
Also you might read the IPhone UI docs and study Apple apps in general, they are generally the best in the world at building UIs with solid workflow.