System Thinking Modes & User Experience Design


Noorul Ameen

09 Jan 2020

System Thinking Modes

If you had ever tried to control your brain, your thoughts and emotions, you would have realised that our brain can think in two ways: Fast and Slow. At the same time, some of our thoughts and emotions might be controlled while others are not.

FAST THINKING (a.k.a System 1 Thinking Mode)

It is essential to think rapidly, be more intuitive and emotional. It is our first impression that might be wrong or with mistakes. There is no logic in this way of thinking, only feelings and comparisons have a place to be. Most of these decisions are taken in a completely unconscious and automatic manner.

SLOW THINKING (a.k.a System 2 Thinking Mode)

The brain reacts slowly, gets more focused and logical. This way of thinking is used to make big decisions, analyse or solve something. On a daily basis, we use mostly the 1st System that is quick and takes less effort. Normally, the 2nd System isn’t engaged unless there is a real need.

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According to the universal law of the Path of Least Resistance, the brain likes it when everything is clear and easy, without thinking too hard. What happens when our brain is forced to use the 2nd System for simple tasks and work for a while?


Summing up, remember that a good UX design is based on understanding how people perceive and process the information while they are scrolling on your website or using a mobile app. Stay tuned as I will present some samples how designers intentionally force users into System 2 Thinking mode while creating enterprise grade user experiences.

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