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Please help my failing memory. I'm trying to recall the term or principle related to placing system feedback near the place where the action occurred. For instance, if clicking a button triggers some on-screen action, that action should be in close proximity to that button that was clicked.

The proximity principle seems to be more about visual grouping of static elements. I know I've read about this best practice in terms of actions and microinteractions but I cannot find the source. I need to reference them to articulate some design decisions.

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I think it might be a combination of proximity principle (as you mentioned) and temporal contiguity which refers to how close two events are two each other. So in your example, the temporal contiguity is represented by the time between the button click and the on-screen action, while the proximity is determined by how close the action is to the button. I am not sure if there is a single term that encompasses both, but this is where I would start

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    I don't think this is what I was thinking of, but I'm glad you shared it! I work on edTech products, so this concept of temporal contiguity is highly relevant!
    – MRL
    Feb 22 at 20:23
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I think change blindness might be closer to the design principle or consideration I was thinking about. From NN/g, Change Blindness in UX: Definition:

"Change blindness refers to people’s tendency to ignore changes in a scene when they occur in a region that is far away from their focus of attention."

...change blindness often occurs when a new element (such as a different image in a product-image carousel, or the contents of a dropdown menu) appears on the screen as a result of user action and other areas of the screen also change. The locus of the change is expected to be the visible design element that responds directly to the user action and the user moves the eyes in that direction — yet in fact, the change is spread across multiple regions of the screen.

Some tips to prevent change blindness

  • Avoid competing changes by only triggering/displaying one change at a time.
  • If multiple items change simultaneously, group them together
  • Display the change near the user's area of focus (for instance, near the button or object the user interacted with.
  • Use animation to draw user's attention to the change. But use animation judiciously so as not to be too distracting or compete for attention.

I think this concept is the closest match to what I was thinking, but if someone thinks of a more relevant principle, do share!

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