Day#319: Peripheral vs Central Vision – 100 things every designer should know

Day#319: Peripheral vs Central Vision – 100 things every designer should know

Hey Researchers and Designers so by now you know I am doing a series on the amazing book by Susan Weinschenk called 100 things every designer should know. The topic for today is on Peripheral vs Central Vision. An easy way to think of it is that Peripheral vision is for the surroundings, where an as central vision focuses on what is central in your vision. So you are looking at a desk, you see your phone on the desk that is your central vision. The peripheral is the white walls in the background and the rest of your living room. 

A very interesting study was done, that is referenced in the book. See the extract below..

“Adam Larson and Lester Loschky (2009) showed people photographs of common scenes, such as a kitchen or a living room. In some of the photographs the outside of the image was obscured, and in others the central part of the image was obscured. The images were shown for very short amounts of time, and were purposely shown with a gray filter so they were somewhat hard to see (see Figure 2.1 and Figure 2.2). Then they asked the research participants to identify what they were looking at. Larson and Loschky found that if the central part of the photo was missing, people could still identify what they were looking at. But when the peripheral part of the image was missing, then they couldn’t say whether the scene was a living room or a kitchen. They tried obscuring different amounts of the photo. They concluded that central vision is the most critical for specific object recognition, but peripheral vision is used for getting the gist of a scene.”

Check out the video below, I found by Adam Larson and Lestor Loschky explaining their work, methodologies and conditions.

The book has some great visual examples, and I would still give it a read. For those wondering about the reason why this important when it comes to UX, lets run through a brief explanation. When a user comes to a site they have a central focus and a peripheral focus. Things that can affect your focus is movement which happens a lot with bright flashing banners and colours. Is this a positive or a negative? Do you want your users distracted to the side to see that content or do you want them focused on the task at hand. Is the content being viewed by users something that they will like, or does it annoy them? Keeping the above in mind, does the user potentially miss certain crucial points or tasks because they are focused on a central or peripheral point? These are all the questions I would ask in relation to the content we have been discussing today. Understanding biological as well as behavioral characteristics is crucial in creating quality experiences for users all around us. Happy researching until next time Uxers!

Bye for now

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