Understanding the end user’s needs, habits and behaviour is a key component of UX design. This involves cultivating an awareness of some of the most universal characteristics that web users exhibit, whether they’re visiting expensive or cheap websites. Now, in order to cultivate that awareness, a general understanding of human psychology is helpful.
The following article will help you understand the different forms of visual attention and how they function so that you can apply these trends in daily product design.
What Affects Our Attention Span?
Attention simply refers to our ability to focus on specific data from a wide selection of processes and stimuli options. This is what gives us the ability to choose between focusing on something or ignoring it.
Therefore, the psychology of attention explores how the mechanisms of perceptions work in order to create consistent behavioural patterns.
Spatial Attention vs. Feature-Based Attention
Visual attention comes in two forms; feature-based attention and spatial attention. As the name implies, feature-based attention refers to our ability to focus our attention on a particular feature instead of the whole thing, whereas spatial attention means that we’ve directed our focus towards a specific area.
Human Information Processing
In order to create attention-grabbing design products, we need to be cognizant of how information is processed. Now, some say that information is processed in a continuous way while others state that it’s a process that goes from one period to the other.
Types of Attention
There are various categories of information which differ according to the amount of stimuli being presented as well as the uniqueness of the situation.
- Selective Attention
Selective attention is our ability to choose a point of focus among all the stimuli in front of us that’s vying for our attention. This enables us to only pay attention to the most important stimuli, and this attention can also be driven by significant changes in the environment. Knowledge of selective attention can enable UX designers to create customized user experiences that cater to user’s needs.
- Divided Attention
This refers to the phenomenon of paying attention to more than one stimulus at a time. For example, walking and chewing gum or talking while one is driving a car. However, because we can only really focus on one thing at a time, it only makes sense to stop talking if something happens on the road that requires our attention so that we can focus on driving alone.
In UX design, the principle of focused attention is used to ensure that the user interface enables the person to pay sustained attention to what’s being presented to them. For example, have you ever visited one of those cheap websites whose busy interface instantly turns you off? That’s because your focus is being pulled into so many different directions that there’s no one specific point for you to focus on, and that’s exactly what a UX designer needs to avoid.
Attention is a Limited Cognitive Resource
The main duty of a UX designer, whether they’re creating expensive or cheap websites, is to lessen cognitive overload while still making the website interesting. That’s how they ensure that you get the desired results from your website.
For example, there’s a phenomenon in behavioural psychology known as “the cocktail party effect”, which is based on the fact that when a person is having a conversation with someone at a cocktail party, they’re able to tune out all the other voices and only listen to the person they’re talking to.
The same principle can be applied in web design. By using bold font, curated colours, contrast, beeps, white space and tones, a UX designer can grab the user’s attention through the senses.