Findings from an Experiment on Flow Direction of Business Process Models

Kathrin Figl, Mark Strembeck

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingContribution to conference proceedings


A core aspect of diagrammatic process modeling is the visualization of the logical and temporal order in which tasks are to be performed in a process. While conventions and guidelines exist that promote modeling processes from left-to-right or from top-to-bottom, no empirically validated design rationale can be provided for this choice so far. Therefore, this paper seeks to determine whether some flow directions are better than others from a cognitive point of view. We present the results of a controlled pilot experiment comparing the effects of four flow directions (left-to-right, right-to-left, top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top) on process model comprehension with a small sample size of 44 participants. Although there is a variety of theoretical arguments which support the use of a left-to-right flow direction as convention for process models, the preliminary empirical results of the pilot experiment were less clear-cut and showed that model readers also adapted well to uncommon reading directions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Workshop on Enterprise Modelling and Information Systems Architectures (EMISA)
Editors Jens Kolb, Henrik Leopold, Jan Mendling
Place of PublicationInnsbruck, Austria
PublisherGesellschaft für Informatik, Bonn
Pages59 - 73
ISBN (Print)978-3-88579-642-8
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 102006 Computer supported cooperative work (CSCW)
  • 102015 Information systems
  • 102013 Human-computer interaction
  • 102024 Usability research
  • 502050 Business informatics
  • 501011 Cognitive psychology
  • 503008 E-learning

Cite this