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A train dashboard.

Human Factors Design Guidelines for Multifunction Displays by Mejdal, McCauley, & Beringer (2001) provides a series of human factors guidelines for the design of multifunction displays including issues of attention and distraction. It provides general principles and guidelines to consider when designing user interfaces. For example: 

  • “Care must be taken to ensure that symbol attributes that have strong attention getting value (e.g., flashing color) are used sparingly and only when justified by the relative priority of the top-level task in relation to all of the user’s other tasks.”  (p. 42) 
  • “An auditory signal should be used to alert and direct the user’s attention to the appropriate visual display.”  (p. 50)
  • “The design should allow the crewmembers to focus attention on the task rather than on what they have to do with the system to accomplish that task.”  (p. 57) 
  • “Navigability: An organized GUI provides an initial focus for the viewer’s attention, directs attention to important, secondary, or peripheral items, and assists in navigation.”  (p. 7) 
  • “Simplicity: Don’t compromise usability for function.  A poorly organized interface cluttered with many advanced functions distracts users from accomplishing their tasks. Keep the interface simple and straightforward.”  (p. 11) 


  • Mejdal,S McCauley, & Beringer (2001). Human Factors Design Guidelines for Multifunction Displays DOT/FAA/AM-01/17. Civil Aerospace Medical Institute. Federal Aviation Administration.