User Experience: The Power Of Distraction

When showing people creative digital solutions, it has been interesting to see so many examples of clear mobile interfaces that may say “swipe left”, but confuse users who blindly swipe right. 

If you’re someone who’s ever made this mistake, fret not, you’re in good company – consider the ‘distraction effect’. 

“Medical students can have difficulty in distinguishing left from right. Many infamous medical errors have occurred when a procedure has been performed on the wrong side, such as in the removal of the wrong kidney. Clinicians encounter many distractions during their work. There is limited information on how these affect performance.”

Distraction Effect – McKinley, Dempster and Gormley

It’s no wonder that a user experience designed in the isolated comfort of a designer’s working environment will be a very different experience when used within the muddled competing space of the Web. This is one reason user research can bring so many interesting, unexpected and crucial opportunities for innovation and change.

There are many things you can assume when presenting your product to the world, but that’s exactly where companies go wrong. Assumptions are the biggest downfall for so many organizations, that fail to predict how their prospective customers will think and behave in context.

This disconnect between how we would expect our users to behave versus the reality can cause frustration amongst users and lead them straight to your competition.

Monkey Business

Another interesting way of looking at the power of distraction is to consider Simons and Chabris study of “Inattentional Blindness”.

We are missing a lot of what goes on around us. We have no idea that we are missing so much.

Simons and Chabris

With the unlimited amount of apps and websites available to us these days, companies are competing like never before to attain and retain our attention. More and more companies are starting to realize that a good user experience is their real competitive advantage. Creating an engaging and captivating user experience will prevent users from getting distracted by the endless alternatives available to them. 


If you cater for the distracting nature of the World Wide Web when presenting your solution, you can get your company ahead of the curve.

In an article by Jakob Nielsen, User Experience Expert titled: ‘First Rule of Usability? Don’t Listen to Users’, he says:

  • Watch what people actually do.
  • Do not believe what people say they do.
  • Definitely don’t believe what people predict they may do in the future.

These realisations can only be discovered with well-crafted user research. Luckily Gutsy Ninja can help you on your journey to perfection in the chaotic, distracting world of e-commerce.

Aris Capellos

Co-Founder / Gutsy Ninja


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