Anticipatory Gestures

15 Mar 2007 - 6:04am
7 years ago
10 replies
753 reads
Dan Brown
2004

Something interesting happened in usability testing yesterday. Without
belaboring the details of the interface (which I was not responsible
for), one of our users had anticipated a control being in one part of
the screen, so he moved the pointer there prior to the screen fully
loading.

He had good reason to. This particular site was divided into four
sections. Three of the four sections located the control in the lower
right corner. The fourth in the lower left.

Our participant noticed this immediately and pointed it out. The quote
that'll go in my report is something like this: "See, I put my mouse
here because that's where the others were."

I'm curious about research in this area. Has anyone looked at the
impact of anticipatory gestures -- both positively when the interface
is consistent enough to support it and negatively when it's not?

If it doesn't already have an official name, I would propose that we
call these gestures "Brownian motions" -- but I believe that's already
been taken [1]... :-)

-- Dan

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownian_motion

--
} work: eightshapes.com
} book: communicatingdesign.com
} blog: greenonions.com
} talk: +1 (301) 801-4850

Comments

15 Mar 2007 - 7:22am
.pauric
2006

Not knowing much about nothing can I question the label 'gesture'?

Is this not somewhere between motor memory and memory mapping, with a little
preemptive Fitts in there somewhere.

I thought gestures were interaction controls in themselves.
Suggest: Fitts mapping for virtual interfaces and Motor mapping for
physical.

This happens to me all the time when moving between Europe and US, driving
on the wrong side of the road, frantically grabbing over my left shoulder
for a seat belt that isnt there, smacking my left hand in to the door trying
to change the radio.

15 Mar 2007 - 9:15am
Christopher Fahey
2005

> one of our users had
> anticipated a control being in one part of the screen, so he
> moved the pointer there prior to the screen fully loading.

Awesome observation. Additionally, it's been noted that many users move
their cursors around a screen seemingly randomly, selecting text for no
conscious reason, clicking in non-hot places, rolling over everything on
the page... All seemingly just to kill time or to have something to do
with one's hand.

The NY Times recently implemented a feature that when you double click a
word in any article, a pop-up window will appear with additional
resources about that particular word. For someone like me who does click
around the screen in "safe" places as a kind of nervous habit, this is
an unwanted functionality. The designers didn't figure on users
displaying this kind of "benign interaction" behavior.

I think "anticipatory gestures" is just one subset of this broad
category of "benign interactions", interactions whose purposes range
from purely nervous movement (like tapping one's foot on the floor or
fingers on the table), to anticipating where they 'feel' the feature
they want should be, all the way to subconsciously rolling over stuff to
see if anything pops up. Because they have no conscious purposes and no
meaningful effect on underlying process flows, I call them "benign
interactions" (although I like "Brownian Motion").

Anyone else observe this phenomenon?

-Cf

Christopher Fahey
____________________________
Behavior
http://www.behaviordesign.com
me: http://www.graphpaper.com

15 Mar 2007 - 12:45pm
Josh
2006

Dan

We've seen very similar behavior when testing search results and photo
slideshows. Nothing seems to frustrate users more than when the "Next" and
"Previous" links move around. We noticed it especially when users were
concentrating on content that was in one part of a page, but the controls to
navigate the content were assumed to be fixed in another part of the page.
They were frustrated when the controls moved and they were forced to change
focus to figure out what happened. Imagine going through a slideshow and
having to look up from the photos to find the "Next" button every time. It's
pretty common on the web, where images of variable height and width are
concerned.

The concept of anticipatory design is HUGE when considering the development
of processes and flows through web applications.

--
Josh Viney
EastMedia Group
http://www.eastmedia.com

15 Mar 2007 - 1:03pm
AlokJain
2006

In one of the user testing I had done for a large document management system
with some advanced users.

We found that users navigated through multiple pages of search results and
would scan through the results list, hit page down and actually expected the
page length and hence the distance to the "Next" link be the same. Distance
here being the number of time they hit page down key. It was frustrating for
them if the distance changed and they had to reorient mouse position. We
found this with 2 out of 8 users, all were advanced and frequent users of
the application.

We could not find a way to technically manage this distance, but were able
to handle this with increased spacing, which was received well by other 6 as
well.

--
Best Regards
Alok Jain
----------------------------------------------------------
http://www.iPrincipia.com
http://www.i-Kreate.org

On 3/15/07, Dan Brown <brownorama at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Something interesting happened in usability testing yesterday. Without
> belaboring the details of the interface (which I was not responsible
> for), one of our users had anticipated a control being in one part of
> the screen, so he moved the pointer there prior to the screen fully
> loading.
>
> He had good reason to. This particular site was divided into four
> sections. Three of the four sections located the control in the lower
> right corner. The fourth in the lower left.
>
> Our participant noticed this immediately and pointed it out. The quote
> that'll go in my report is something like this: "See, I put my mouse
> here because that's where the others were."
>
> I'm curious about research in this area. Has anyone looked at the
> impact of anticipatory gestures -- both positively when the interface
> is consistent enough to support it and negatively when it's not?
>
> If it doesn't already have an official name, I would propose that we
> call these gestures "Brownian motions" -- but I believe that's already
> been taken [1]... :-)
>
> -- Dan
>
> [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownian_motion
>
> --
> } work: eightshapes.com
> } book: communicatingdesign.com
> } blog: greenonions.com
> } talk: +1 (301) 801-4850
>

15 Mar 2007 - 2:54pm
Leisa Reichelt
2006

>For someone like me who does click
>around the screen in "safe" places as a kind of nervous habit, this is
>an unwanted functionality. The designers didn't figure on users
>displaying this kind of "benign interaction" behavior.

I do this all the time too. For me it's a digital version of an
annoying thing that I do when reading a book, which is to flick
through the top corner of the pages with my thumb repeatedly. Drives
people mad, but it's too much of a habit for me to stop.

So, when I'm reading text on a screen, I'm constantly selecting it and
deselecting it for no reason... just an annoying habit.

I think it's reasonably rare tho'. I've not observed much of this
either in testing or 'in the wild', and people frequently remark on
observing me behaving this way that it's strange and unusual.

NY Times apparently does lots of testing. I wonder if they tested this
new feature and if they saw anything interesting :)

On 15/03/07, Christopher Fahey <chris.fahey at behaviordesign.com> wrote:
> > one of our users had
> > anticipated a control being in one part of the screen, so he
> > moved the pointer there prior to the screen fully loading.
>
> Awesome observation. Additionally, it's been noted that many users move
> their cursors around a screen seemingly randomly, selecting text for no
> conscious reason, clicking in non-hot places, rolling over everything on
> the page... All seemingly just to kill time or to have something to do
> with one's hand.
>
> The NY Times recently implemented a feature that when you double click a
> word in any article, a pop-up window will appear with additional
> resources about that particular word. For someone like me who does click
> around the screen in "safe" places as a kind of nervous habit, this is
> an unwanted functionality. The designers didn't figure on users
> displaying this kind of "benign interaction" behavior.
>
> I think "anticipatory gestures" is just one subset of this broad
> category of "benign interactions", interactions whose purposes range
> from purely nervous movement (like tapping one's foot on the floor or
> fingers on the table), to anticipating where they 'feel' the feature
> they want should be, all the way to subconsciously rolling over stuff to
> see if anything pops up. Because they have no conscious purposes and no
> meaningful effect on underlying process flows, I call them "benign
> interactions" (although I like "Brownian Motion").
>
> Anyone else observe this phenomenon?
>
> -Cf
>
> Christopher Fahey
> ____________________________
> Behavior
> http://www.behaviordesign.com
> me: http://www.graphpaper.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

--
________________________
Leisa Reichelt
Contextual Research & User Centred Design

leisa.reichelt at gmail.com
www.disambiguity.com

15 Mar 2007 - 3:56pm
Will Parker
2007

On Mar 15, 2007, at 1:54 PM, Leisa Reichelt wrote:
>> For someone like me who does click
>> around the screen in "safe" places as a kind of nervous habit,
>> this is
>> an unwanted functionality. The designers didn't figure on users
>> displaying this kind of "benign interaction" behavior.
>
> I do this all the time too. For me it's a digital version of an
> annoying thing that I do when reading a book, which is to flick
> through the top corner of the pages with my thumb repeatedly. Drives
> people mad, but it's too much of a habit for me to stop.
>
> So, when I'm reading text on a screen, I'm constantly selecting it and
> deselecting it for no reason... just an annoying habit.
>
> I think it's reasonably rare tho'. I've not observed much of this
> either in testing or 'in the wild', and people frequently remark on
> observing me behaving this way that it's strange and unusual.
>
> NY Times apparently does lots of testing. I wonder if they tested this
> new feature and if they saw anything interesting :)

I wonder if this behavior could be captured with any reliability in a
usability lab setting. Subjects in lab tests are notoriously timid
about poking around in unfamiliar environments, whether nervously or
in a directed fashion.

I would think you'd have to design your tests so that the user felt
'at home' in the test environment before they started displaying
their nervous-habit interactions.

- Will

Will Parker
wparker at ChannelingDesign.com

"The only people who value your specialist knowledge are the ones who
already have it." - William Tozier

15 Mar 2007 - 9:23pm
Keith_Karn
2007

Dan, Josh, and others -
I studied such anticipatory movements for my dissertation research. I
was looking at both hand and eye movements. It turns out that we
regularly move our eye to the object that we intend to click on in
advance of the hand movement. As the slower hand movement begins to
close in on the target object, our eyes are typically off looking at
the next interesting thing even before the mouse click. More details
here:
Karn, K. & Hayhoe, M. (2000) Memory representations guide targeting
eye movements in a natural task. Visual Cognition. 7:673-703.
As for the behavior of people apparently selecting random text while
reading... I do something like that when I'm reading along document on
the screen and use the highlighting of selected text as sort of a
bookmark to help me keep my place while scrolling.

As for Josh's point about the "Next" button position changing from
screen to screen; that isn't so much of a case of anticipatory
movement, but more a case of requiring unanticipated movement.

Keith Karn
------------------------------
On 3/15/2007 "Josh Viney" <jviney at gmail.com> wrote
> We've seen very similar behavior when testing search results and photo
> slideshows. Nothing seems to frustrate users more than when the "Next"
> and
> "Previous" links move around.

On 3/15/07, Dan Brown <brownorama at gmail.com> wrote:
> Something interesting happened in usability testing yesterday. ....
> one of our users had anticipated a control being in one part of
> the screen, so he moved the pointer there prior to the screen fully
> loading.
> He had good reason to. This particular site was divided into four
> sections. Three of the four sections located the control in the lower
> right corner. The fourth in the lower left.
> Our participant noticed this immediately and pointed it out. The quote
> that'll go in my report is something like this: "See, I put my mouse
> here because that's where the others were."....

16 Mar 2007 - 12:15am
Josh
2006

Keith - good point. When I wrote the email, I wasn't thinking so much about
the mouse movement as I was about the failed click (or double-click) when
the expected link wasn't under the pointer. I was thinking of anticipation
as a symptom of expectation. The user's expectations are built up over a
series of interactions w/ the interface to the point that the user is making
anticipatory gestures only to be disappointed when the interface fails to
meet the expectations it set for itself.

I do remember an old web site that asked visitors to think of a number, and
promised it could guess the number. The site had the numbers along one side
of the screen, and it relied on the visitors mouse-scanning behavior to
guess the number. The number would appear in a small box on the opposite
side of the screen. It seemed like magic at the time.

--
Josh Viney
EastMedia Group
http://www.eastmedia.com

16 Mar 2007 - 4:19am
Lisa Harper
2007

Somewhat tangential, but not un-related are studies from gesture and
language researchers. A prominent and very readable work that delves into a
cognitive theory of communication is David McNeill's _Hand and Mind_ (What
Gestures Reveal about Thought). He argues that gestures directly transfer
mental images to visual form and convey ideas that language can't express.
Gesture researchers closely study the timing of gestures wrt to linguistic
communication and it is well known that gestures anticipate meaning in
speech. If you are interested in classification of gestures and also gesture
timing, this is a good place to start. I studied abstract referential
gestures for a dissertation in linguistics before being lured into
interaction design -- fascinating stuff. ;-)

Lisa Harper

On 3/15/07, Keith_Karn <kkarn at frontiernet.net> wrote:
>
> Dan, Josh, and others -
> I studied such anticipatory movements for my dissertation research. I
> was looking at both hand and eye movements. It turns out that we
> regularly move our eye to the object that we intend to click on in
> advance of the hand movement. As the slower hand movement begins to
> close in on the target object, our eyes are typically off looking at
> the next interesting thing even before the mouse click. More details
> here:
> Karn, K. & Hayhoe, M. (2000) Memory representations guide targeting
> eye movements in a natural task. Visual Cognition. 7:673-703.
> As for the behavior of people apparently selecting random text while
> reading... I do something like that when I'm reading along document on
> the screen and use the highlighting of selected text as sort of a
> bookmark to help me keep my place while scrolling.
>
> As for Josh's point about the "Next" button position changing from
> screen to screen; that isn't so much of a case of anticipatory
> movement, but more a case of requiring unanticipated movement.
>
> Keith Karn
> ------------------------------
> On 3/15/2007 "Josh Viney" <jviney at gmail.com> wrote
> > We've seen very similar behavior when testing search results and photo
> > slideshows. Nothing seems to frustrate users more than when the "Next"
> > and
> > "Previous" links move around.
>
> On 3/15/07, Dan Brown <brownorama at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Something interesting happened in usability testing yesterday. ....
> > one of our users had anticipated a control being in one part of
> > the screen, so he moved the pointer there prior to the screen fully
> > loading.
> > He had good reason to. This particular site was divided into four
> > sections. Three of the four sections located the control in the lower
> > right corner. The fourth in the lower left.
> > Our participant noticed this immediately and pointed it out. The quote
> > that'll go in my report is something like this: "See, I put my mouse
> > here because that's where the others were."....
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

20 Mar 2007 - 2:14pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

> I'm curious about research in this area. Has anyone looked at the
> impact of anticipatory gestures -- both positively when the interface
> is consistent enough to support it and negatively when it's not?

I think you describe another example of Consistency of Interaction -
common principle (often) applied to assignment of soft buttons in cell
phones.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On 3/15/07, Dan Brown <brownorama at gmail.com> wrote:
> Something interesting happened in usability testing yesterday. Without
> belaboring the details of the interface (which I was not responsible
> for), one of our users had anticipated a control being in one part of
> the screen, so he moved the pointer there prior to the screen fully
> loading.
>
> He had good reason to. This particular site was divided into four
> sections. Three of the four sections located the control in the lower
> right corner. The fourth in the lower left.
>
> Our participant noticed this immediately and pointed it out. The quote
> that'll go in my report is something like this: "See, I put my mouse
> here because that's where the others were."
>
> I'm curious about research in this area. Has anyone looked at the
> impact of anticipatory gestures -- both positively when the interface
> is consistent enough to support it and negatively when it's not?

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