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Attention design: eight issues to consider

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 14:07 authored by Sharon Wood, Richard Cox, Peter ChengPeter Cheng
In HCI research there is a body of work concerned with the development of systems capable of reasoning about users’ attention and how this might be most effectively guided for specific applications. We present eight issues relevant to this endeavour: What is attention? How can attention be measured? How do graphical displays interact with attention? How do knowledge, performance and attention interact? What is working memory? How does doing two things at a time affect attention? What is the effect of artificial feedback loops on attention? Do attentional processes differ across tasks? For each issue we present design implications for developing attention–aware systems, and present a general discussion focussing on the dynamic nature of attention, tasks (number, nature and variety), level of processing, nature of the display, and validity of measures. In conclusion, we emphasise the need to adopt a dynamic view of attention and suggest that attention is a more complex phenomenon than some designers may have realised; however, embracing the multi-faceted nature of attention provides a range of design opportunities yet to be explored.


Publication status

  • Published


Computers in Human Behavior







Page range


Department affiliated with

  • Informatics Publications


Originality: No previous synthesis of implications of psychological literature applied to attention design. Makes a significant contribution to the very limited amount of existing work in the design of attention aware computer based systems by presenting a synthesis of existing literature on visual attention research under eight key headings, highlighting issues for consideration and ways forward for future work. Rigour: This work is the result of thorough search, in both breadth and depth, of issues in the literature. It synthesises this work in relation to a range of common themes and explains their relevance in designing attention aware systems. Significance: This paper has signs of being an agenda setting paper from the various citations we have had so far (Bull et al, 2007; Harper & Bechhofer, 2007; Harper et al, 2006; Romero et al, 2007; Shi et al, 2006). Likely to become a standard reference for new work in this area. Impact: This paper was one of five selected for this journal special issue (fully refereed) from nine (refereed) papers presented at the 'Designing for Attention' Workshop at HCI 2004, Leeds.

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