I started reading a fascinating book this morning called 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk. This book goes into how the brain perceives objects, how people handle central and peripheral vision, and much more. I’ve only made it to point six, however I find this point extremely significant; especially in regards to my recent concepts for banner and bubble text scrolling in notifications.
6) People Scan Screens Based On Past Experience And Expectation
In this section, it first describes that at first glance, the user is going to scan the screen in his or her native reading pattern (i.e. left to right, top to bottom). If something grabs that person’s attention, they will be pulled away from that tendency and change their viewing routine.
What’s even more fascinating however is the fact that people associate an interface based on past experiences. It seems like an obvious fact to note, but it’s done subconsciously without you even noticing it at times.
In the case of the lock screen, if one were to break it up into three eye focal points, they would be the following:
- The clock area
- Center of the screen
- Slide to unlock area
One of the main reasons the clock area is generally one of the first focal points is because it’s at the very top of the screen. Our natural tendency is to view from top to bottom, so whenever unlocking or viewing the screen, we scan from top to bottom.
One could argue that the status bar is the first piece of the screen you see, however it is also the smallest component. The clock area draws your eyes first, without even a glance generally to your status bar. Unless you’ve trained yourself otherwise if you have various status icons on your status bar.
The clock area has remained the same in iOS since the beginning, so it becomes a habit to look in that area for a particular piece of information
Center of the screen:
Notifications come through on this part of the screen, which triggers your mind to expect some type of alert in that field of the screen. This dates back since the beginning, even with UIAlertViews for notifications. It also encompasses the center of the person’s wallpaper or the battery view when your device is plugged in. Generally speaking, the objects that appear in the center of the screen or a slight bit bigger to capture the person’s attention if an alert or some type of view comes up.
Slide to unlock area:
This is place of entrance into the device, so when the person makes the conscious decision to unlock the device, they drift there. Although it is not critical for the user to be viewing the slider when executed, your eyes are drawn to the slider moving and the text being concealed as it passes over. It’s appealing to the eyes and viewable confirmation that your device unlocked (especially if you have the lock sound turned off) is critical. When a user is performing an action, it is a natural tendency to clarify that you’re doing the right thing.
Based on how a user scans the lock screen, it would be wise to position your application or design at one of the focal points for the best view ability. According to what I’ve read and taken into account for the lock screen, put the most important info you want people to view on the top third of the screen or in the center.
To designers and developers out there,
When designing or developing for the lock screen, take into account different focal points you feel are important to the user. Try to incorporate habitual tendencies for the user to capture the user’s attention towards what you’ve built or designed. I don’t claim to be an expert by any means and I’m learning a lot. I hope that you take away some good information from this article. I strongly encourage feedback as well as insight from you guys; I want to learn more.
© 2012 Joshua Tucker