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Glossary » distraction


anything that draws a users attention away from their current focus or desired focus, usually sounds or moving visual displays (such as blinking text, automatically scrolling text, animations, and flashing menubars).

On rare occasions, distractions can actually be useful for moving a user’s attention to important signals, such as warning or error messages (as with a flashing menubar), though often they represent design errors by drawing the user’s attention to low-priority items or over-emphasizing items that a user does not always want to attend to. They may also happen as the result of conflicting priorities, as in the case of distracting banner ads.

Awareness mechanisms, which are intended to keep the user updated on system status and the activities of other people, may become distractions when they are too intrusive or when the activities they monitor become too intense.