We know the part in a site that is to carry an action is called "Call to Action". Similarly, is there any name for the part on a site that takes the utmost attention of a user? Or is the action element always the one that gathers it?

4 Answers 4

  1. The call to action is the thing with which we want to engage the user's attention.
  2. The locus (+1 Jan) is the object of the user's conscious attention, and it can change from moment to moment.
  3. The focal point (borrowing a term from art) is the place most likely to draw the user's attention.

Thus, we try to make the call to action a focal point so it will become the locus of attention.


In his book "The Humane Interface", Jef Raskin has introduced the (formerly biological) term "locus of attention" to the field of HCI. It is defined as the area to which the user's attention is drawn:

“I use the term locus because it means place, or site. The term focus, which is sometimes used in a similar connection, can be read as a verb; thus, it conveys a misimpression of how attention works.”

Often, calls to action (or other elements that the user should focus on) never get the user's attention because the user gets distracted and thus their locus of attention is somewhere else entirely.

Good examples are ads that directly compete with a site's main content and use distracting means like popups, blinking or more attractive calls to action.

  • I think it's more accurate to say that Raskin adopted the phrase from biologists and applied it to HCI - the term certainly existed in other domains before his book.
    – gef05
    May 12, 2011 at 14:21
  • No worries. I do think most of us know the phrase due to Raskin, but I was overcome with a fit of the pedantics.
    – gef05
    May 12, 2011 at 14:35
  • Yeah, I know the feeling. And so do the people around me ;-)
    – Jan
    May 12, 2011 at 14:51
  • thanks for your detailed answer, but I picked Patrick's, as it is concise and addresses your answer alike.
    – Özgür
    May 15, 2011 at 18:22
  • no worries! :-)
    – Jan
    May 16, 2011 at 8:26

"Prime Real Estate" is the term I (and many others) use. You can google it.


Since eye trackers produce 'heat maps', does it not follow that the points of maximum attention on the heat maps are 'hot spots' ?

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