Locus Effects

A while ago I stumbled on a very interesting article by Yuval Naveh on CodeProject about Locus Effects

Locus– Latin for "the place."

So our Locus is the place where our conscious/mind is set. It is the state of our mind. The Locus can change if an external event alarms our mind. For example: when we are reading a book, if a rapid ball of fire moves from right to left in the horizon, it is likely to catch our attention. This biological mechanism is built in us for survival. If a dangerous event happens, our mind pays attention to it since it is something that can kill us, harm us etc.

It is obvious that our Locus can be changed. This can be taken into consideration while designing a user interface that requires user’s attention. But usually it is misused or overly used; causing distracted user interfaces that makes us unproductive and tired. Modal forms attract our locus but since they are so repetitive and since they block our work we tend to click OK automatically and close these nags. Locus changes should be done as and when needed with great care and thought. If the locus changes for a brief time, our productivity is not harmed but after that we loose concentration in our previous task. Switching back to the previous task is quite slow and causes productivity problems.

At the time I thought it was a pretty nifty tool but couldn’t really see where I would be able to use it.

I’m currently on-site at a client implementing a Work in progress manufacturing system.Bearing in mind that the users of the system have been using a Unix based system for more than 10 years, it is a rather daunting task to get them onto windows.One of the processes in the system requires a number of steps to be completed, while testing we found that it can get a bit confusing on what to do next. So we decided to put something in place to indicate to the users which steps to follow etc.

At first we thought a simple 1,2,3 list would work, but I weren’t happy with the solution, so I had a look around and tried a few things before I remembered Locus Effects. I am happy to report that it works like a charm, we’ve added a "What Now" button, so whenever the user is lost in the process they can simply click the button, and an arrow will indicate the next step/option available for them. Pretty cool stuff.