System notification slides in. Notifications at the top of the page lights up. Toast notification slides up. User looks to reference something on another tab. Switches windows. This is the new normal with digital experiences. We are continually bombarded with distractions that are competing for our attention. And while most of us just forge through it, this is extremely challenging for those of us with learning disorders such as dyslexia.
We designed this for those with learning disorders in mind together with a hope that shipped product would be of value to a much wider audience.
'The removal of distractions in reading mode will help users to be better able to focus on the content and will enable them to be more productive.'
We wanted to think more holistically than just the experience that we own. What browser or system preferences would also lend themselves to a more focused, distraction-free experience? How can we turn off the noise around the user so they can focus on this one thing? We also looked at the content itself. We wanted to maintain the integrity of the content and represent it faithfully to how it was published, but is there a way to tone down some of the more distracting elements.
We started by removing all of the superfluous chrome and controls from the reading canvas, leaving nothing but the page and content.
A minimal set of view customisation controls we retained in a settings pane.
The introduction of themes or colours allow users to more finely tune their viewing experience. Spending large amounts of time in front of a screen with mostly white hues can cause eye strain, particularly in low light conditions, so we introduced a range of dark modes. A highly requested feature.
For an immersive reading environment we incorporated a control to be able to launch users into full screen mode, removing OS and browser chrome.
Other Reading Improvements
Beyond Focus Mode, we also looked at what other improvements we could make to the reading experience of Confluence users. We identified another area of opportunity. We saw that many users would star items but would rarely maintain or groom this collection leading it to get out of control. In parallel I was looking at ways users could queue up pages to read in focus mode. We decided to replace the star with a way to add pages to a reading queue. Once read they would self-resolve and be removed from the list, negating the need for any maintenance.
Many users spend a large proportion of their day reading - emails, blog posts, articles, documents. We wanted users to help claw back control of their days, and we thought a small part of that could be giving users some insights into the time commitment of reading a particular page. This is helpful for individual pages, but even more valuable when you are curating a list of pages to read.
We also saw this as something that that intelligently could be tailored to an individuals reading speed. We also investigated ways of finding time in the calendar to be able to read the pages in the list and then marking them as 'do not disturb' on Slack.