This week, I was most inspired by the content in (ch. 14) Designing with the Mind in Mind that talks about user’s perception of time and responsiveness. The more an application can be responsive to the user, the better their experience will be. Users want to feel like they have control and what they are doing is having an effect. Users do not want to feel like their time is being wasted, that they are being interrupted, or that they are being delayed from being productive (i.e., waiting in line at a grocery store). As a significant component of my breathing application is (1) reminding the user to breathe and (2) giving them to option to open a breathing exercise, I have been questioning the best ways to execute these functions. Last week I focused on the reminder functionality, while this week I have been contemplating the breathing exercise component.
Taking over a user’s screen can be extremely frustrating (per my last post) if not done correctly. Per this week’s reading, if any application takes over an entire screen, it must be something the user chooses and can be aborted at any moment without any loss or changes to their previous screen-based workspace. Regarding responsive feedback, the current ideas I have include (1) showing a progress indicator (2) users tracking their number of breaths by keyboard strokes (3) the ability to slow down or speed up the animation. For the progress indicators, a helpful tip from the reading is to show the time remaining over the work completed. Rather than using a numerical timer, I am considering making this indicator visual. When I was user testing the Breathe browser extension, I noticed that it had a numerical countdown and my brain immediately began to cognitively quantify the experience rather than focus on the sensory experience of breathing. Using a visual may be easier and produce less cognitive strain. The keyboard tracking is still something I need to think through more but would create metrics that could provide the user with more feedback. The breathing exercise will revolve around a smooth, calming animation. It was interesting that the reading mentioned that all “jerky” animations should be avoided. Changing the visual, timing, breathing speed, colors, and music are all functionality I plan to include to make the application more—as Don Norman states—flexible over fixed.
Don Norman also mentioned using technology to “make visible what is invisible” and I think that is a lot of what I endeavor to do. Breathing is an automatic function (of the old brain) and is practically invisible to us. By following a visual, the process moves to the more conscious “second brain” and allows conscious awareness over subconscious processes. While I am unsure my research will go in depth into the “two minds”, it was interesting to read about to broaden my perspective in this area.