The UX of Notifications

16 Apr 2010 - 4:29am
3 years ago
4 replies
2242 reads
Mattias Konradsson
2008

Hi everyone,

I'm working on a desktop notification system and is pondering some issues I haven't seen much discussion about , perhaps the list has some insights and thoughts on the subject :)

Placement
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Usually  desktop notifications display in the lower right corner, typically because they "originate" from the taskbar tray. If you discount this tradition is the right-lower corner really the best choice? It seems placement should partly be a factor of the notification priority. "Casual" notifications should probably be displayed somewhere on the edge of the screen in order to not be too obtrusive.

Aren't "Important" notifications best placed in the center of the screen though so that they arent missed? Or perhaps a better method would be to make them "sticky", ie you have to manually dismiss  them. Otherwise you might miss an important notification while looking at something else or being away from the computer (although that could be detected) It would seem an alternative for the lower-right corner for "casual" notifications would be on the right edge but in the middle of the screen


Animation and multiple notifications
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Typically when multiple notification trigger they stack on top of each other, but I've always found it a bit annoying to have a bunch of notifications appear at once and dissappearing before having time to
read them all. Then again,displaying them in sequence doesn't seem like such a good idea either. Perhaps rather than animating each notification separely they should be displayed in bundles. Ie i queue
all "casual" notifications received during a minute or so and display them in one notification instead of several. "Critical" notifications should probably be displayed immediately and separately however.

If placement is in the right-middle screen an appropriate animation might be to have it slide out from the right edge instead of just fading in, too obtrusive?

General use
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In general it seems notifications can be a really really bad thing, receiving "casual"  alerts every time something is updated would severely hamper flow. Two ways to possible counteract  this would be to provide a notification backlog that could be shown when you desire instead of when they're triggered. Another nice functuality would perhaps to have a "flow" mode during which all notifications cease and when reactivated shows the backlog.


It does however feel like there's the opportunity make notifications ever smarter somehow but I can't put my finger on it...

best regards
--
Mattias Konradsson

Comments

16 Apr 2010 - 5:09am
fj
2010

How about diving into the ACM Digital Library and reading up on the CHI papers on this subject?Papers with actual science reviewed by peers? A lot of work on appropriate messaging and managing attention has been published, including on appropriate locations for notification. I am at work so I can't check on starter resources, but just some good search terms and following references should make for a fun afternoon at the very least.

16 Apr 2010 - 5:10pm
Mathew Sanders
2009

Thinking about notices from the task bar is very windows centric. For another perspective you might want to have a look at  http://growl.info/ which is for OS X.
:)

On 16 April 2010 22:42, fj <fj.ixda@exonome.com> wrote:

How about diving into the ACM Digital Library and reading up on the CHI papers on this subject?Papers with actual science reviewed by peers? A lot of work on appropriate messaging and managing attention has been published, including on appropriate locations for notification. I am at work so I can't check on starter resources, but just some good search terms and following references should make for a fun afternoon at the very least.

((
19 Apr 2010 - 10:40am
Dave Epstein
2006

I've done some work in the past designing financial systems, so I've done a bit of thought around this. To the earlier point there is some good academic research on notifications, which can be read.

I like growl aesthetically and think that it does a good job of showing you info without getting in the way. That said it doesn't really do history and at least for me forces a decent amount of customization before I find it useful.

Some of the more interesting thinking in the notification system is being done in the mobile world.

Palm pre has an interesting system http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaqoGGdSfjI

Android has the notification pane as well.

Also stuff to think about, that impacts design

The first thing, at least in my opinion, is to actually try and determine the types of notification and their frequency. What merits a notification that potentially interrupts the user's other task? How frequently do they comes? Is there a need to see past notifications or simply the most recent one? Is a notification more of an FYI or is it something that must be quickly actionable? Can the desktop app support deep linking from a notification...as in if I receive a message saying X and that I need to do Y can I directly get started in task Y by clicking on that notification?

Hope that helps

Dave

On Fri, Apr 16, 2010 at 6:52 PM, Mathew Sanders wrote: > Thinking about notices from the task bar is very windows centric. For > another perspective you might want to have a look at  http://growl.info/ > [1] which is for OS X. > > :) > On 16 April 2010 22:42, fj wrote: >> >> How about diving into the ACM Digital Library and reading up on the CHI >> papers on this subject?Papers with actual science reviewed by peers? A lot >> of work on appropriate messaging and managing attention has been published, >> including on appropriate locations for notification. I am at work so I can't >> check on starter resources, but just some good search terms and following >> references should make for a fun afternoon at the very least. >> (( >> > ((

23 Apr 2010 - 1:06pm
Larry Buck
2008

This is a very interesting topic and very relevant to my current project. This post has prompted me to do a little research. I'd like to share two resources that look promising. I will read/explore them over the weekend.

1)  Title: Attuning notification design to user goals and attention costs
ABSTRACT
Why is the attentive user interface paradigm important for human-computer interaction? The human attention system is so sensitive to various methods of notification that traditional design involves too much compromise and guesswork.
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/636772.636800

2)  see the Literature section on     http://interruptions.net/about.htm 

Larry

 

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