Summary

In a world where the quantity of digital interactions is growing exponentially, considering the nature in which digital products impinge on our attention is becoming increasingly important. To do so, we need to understand the different ‘zones’ to which information can be delivered and the timing of the delivery to each of these zones. Ask questions like, ‘Is this important enough to interrupt the user?’, ‘Can this be delivered in a less intrusive manner, using, for example a sound, a sensation, or subtle status change?’, and ‘Does this notification really need to be quantified?’. Information zones can also be reflected by maintaining a good visual hierarchy across your product or platform, allowing an individual to act with more agency when deciding which pieces of information to engage with.

Example of this Principle in Action

Basis of this Principle

Currently we are being delivered an increasing amount of information every day; online content, status updates, messages, and many other forms of interaction. However, this information is often not delivered to us appropriately and in some cases, respectfully. Companies know that interrupting people is much more likely to grab their attention. However, it is unsustainable to base a relationship between a user and a product on interactions like these. Within this project’s case studies, it is apparent that products such as Slack and Quartz App have considered this issue and made design decisions to deliver content to the user’s ‘peripherals’ as defined by Amber Case. Slack uses an array of different subtle techniques to communicate with you — toggling between bold and standard text, highlighting text boxes, small colourless notification markers — while Quartz allows you to set your own preferences for what you would like to be notified about and how. In addition, Slack’s desktop app does not quantify the number of unread messages on its notification badge. It understands that the number of unread messages is irrelevant and avoiding the anxiety you might associate with a mountain of unread emails is much more important.