Notification Display Choice for Smartphone Users: Investigating the Impact of Notification Displays on a Typing Task

Notification Display Choice for Smartphone Users: Investigating the Impact of Notification Displays on a Typing Task

Lauren Norrie (University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK) and Roderick Murray-Smith (University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/IJMHCI.2016100105
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Notification displays have the potential to make smartphone notifications easier to manage when a user is committed to a primary task. The authors investigate the impact of negotiating notifications with six notification displays on a typing task. The results from their lab experiment with 30 participants show that desktop pop-ups were preferred significantly most, the display choice that required the fewest actions to read notifications, and the most actions to respond. The notification bar was least preferred, which required the most actions to read a notification, and the fewest actions to respond. This work is a well-controlled pre-cursor to the application of notification displays in social scenarios. The results motivate the use of external notification displays to manage attention around a smartphone.
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The visual attention switch (Rashid et. al., 2012) to a private screen that is caused by a notification alert creates a barrier between smartphone users and other co-located persons or tasks. Furthermore, notification alerts can draw multiple people away from a social situation to engage with a private display (‘collateral disruption') (Harr & Kaptelinin, 2007). Notification display choice will impact the interruption caused by managing smartphone notifications around a primary task. We review work related to interruption management and notification displays.

Interruption Management

McFarlane identified four strategies of managing interruptions (McFarlane, 1997): immediate (read the notification right away), scheduled (read at defined intervals), negotiated (read at user determined intervals), and mediated (third party decides when to read). McFarlane (2002) compares each approach to coordinating interruptions, and found that when people are forced to take immediate action, interruption tasks are completed quickly but more mistakes are made in the primary task, and more task switches are involved. In contrast, people perform very well when they can negotiate interruptions themselves, but providing control over the onset of an interruption will increase the time until the interruption task is attended to. This result motivates notification displays that support the negotiation of interruptions, and allow users to better manage the disruption to a primary task.

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