I finished my Master's Thesis with the title "Designing for distraction in gaze-aware mobile notifications" under the supervision of Sebastian Hueber.
While using mobile applications, people would like to keep aware of important information through mobile notifications. At the same time, the mobile notifications often cover users' interaction area and take users' attention away from the primary task so that people perceive them as distractive. In this Master's thesis, we focused on such trade-off of the mobile notifications and investigated how to balance unwanted visual distraction and awareness of the mobile notifications. First, we conducted a pre-study to understand the effect of design factors of the mobile notifications such as size and contrast level on users' reaction time and visual perception. The results showed that participants put a high value on the small-sized notifications which were perceived as less distractive despite the longer reaction time. Also, the intrinsic animation effects such as sliding down from the top for presentation of the notifications influenced on noticeability of the mobile notifications besides the visual design factors. Based on the findings of users' visual perception, we present the gaze-aware notifications utilizing users' gaze as the design option to improve the usability of the mobile notifications. The gaze-aware placement is based on users' eye gaze such that the notifications are presented on the opposite side of the current gaze point. In addition, we added visual effects to the notification design to explore how the visual effects we found from the pre-study can work together with the gaze-aware notifications. For evaluation, we implemented four different visual designs — Standard, Not where we touch, Gaze-aware placement, and Gaze-aware placement with visual manipulations — to verify the usability of the proposed gaze-aware notifications compared to other design options. We conducted a user study and collected users' feedback in terms of perceived visual distraction, attention to the primary task, and preference. Participants reported their overall impressions of the gaze-aware notifications in the follow-up survey. From users' feedback revealed that the gaze-aware notifications involving visual manipulations effectively reduce the perceived visual distraction compared to other design options and enable users to profit the informative characteristics of the mobile notifications. Lastly, we present the promising applications of the gaze-aware notifications and its further improvements.