May I notify you

Notifications often appear at the wrong time: while I am trying to finish a sentence or to listen to my colleague on a call. However, in many cases there is no reason to be notified at a certain time to the exact second. The reminder to take a pill this morning popped up while I was running! Clearly, I’m not going to take it while I’m running, so why not hold the reminder until I finish?

In real life, there is a way to notify without interrupting: by raising your hand. The interface actually has different degrees of “intrusiveness” of notifications as well: red badges, temporary banners, modal windows, sounds. But in real life, if I’ve raised my hand and I don’t get noticed, I can raise it higher after a while, then wave it, or even stand up. If nothing helps, I can say “Excuse me!”

Notifications in the interface lack this kind of progressive persistence. Given the urgency of the message itself and how busy I am, the interface can either tell me everything right away, or start with a little neat dot in the status bar (“raised the hand”), then animate that dot (“waved the hand”) and only if I am not paying attention for very long, bring up a full interface.