The Best Apps Shelter Me from Distraction

Distraction is the social peril of the moment, see this weekend’s latest feature about distraction and a typical response.

Honestly, I skimmed one and don’t have time to read the other, but I’m guessing they play out thusly:

Point: Information overwhelms us, we try and fail to multitask, society crumbles, etc.

Counterpoint: We adapt to distractions and learn to succeed in a new age of communication. Where are my keys?

I promise I’ll read them at some point.

Luckily, it doesn’t matter for this post. Since earlier in the year, when I pondered Twitter apps to build, it’s become increasingly clear to me that the best design, whether mobile or web app, will cut through distractions.

For example, logging in to post this missive, I was distracted by plugin updates and comments. Bad because I’m in a hurry.

Same thing with Twitter clients that distract me with @ replies and direct messages, even worse with unread counts, the most heinous weapon in the psychological warfare armory an app can use to ruin your productivity.

Anyway, this is my new crusade, creating design that is focused to keep the user on task, eliminating distraction.





  1. I guess it depends what your purpose on Twitter is whether @replies and DMs are distractions. From my view, the interaction is key. I’d hate to miss them. I totally agree with the app updates and unread counts.

    I really like Twimbow because it lets me selectively hide and/or view sents, @replies, DMs, RTs, etc.

  2. True, if you read my original post about apps to build at Chirp, it makes more sense. I had planned to build a tweet machine, nothing else, only tweeting.

    Most clients have ways to control noise, but I’d like that done from the jump. That feature won’t switch me from another client that does everything. The way forward, not just for Twitter clients, is less, not more.

  3. I have a similar take to Brent, but with a different app. At work, my Microsoft Outlook is configured to immediately notify me whenever any message (other than a junk message) arrives. In many cases, I can take care of the message within seconds, thus getting it off of my queue. When I can’t, I can file it in a folder or tag it for later work. I could argue that I could be more productive in certain areas if I turned the notifications off, but at the moment I prefer this way of working.

    The important thing, of course, is for the application to give the user some choices about when and how to be distracted, if at all.

  4. Unread counts and new mail notifications are the bane of email clients and productivity. My point is that good design will limit distractions with laser focus on a single unit of work/task, thereby restricting distractions and feature creep.

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