Radicle blog / The principle of the Gestalt law of proximity in the Audible iPhone app

App website: audible.com/mt/Apps

The Gestalt law of proximity is the psychological tendency to consider items placed near one another as being related. And conversely, items apart are taken to be unrelated.

Let us consider a screen of Audible:

We see a list of audiobooks, but the first item appears distinct from the rest:

It has a pie-shaped overlay that many are accustomed to read as ‘progress,’ as well as the ‘x’ symbol that reads as ‘close’ or ‘cancel.’ — Something appears to be happening: indeed, the audiobook is downloading. — But who can say what the close/cancel button refers to? The Gestalt law of proximity has us perceive the overlay to be unrelated to the close/cancel button. The close/cancel button appears to refer to the row in the table more than to the download in progress. And so here we have a dysfluency; and an improved design would make it clear that the close/cancel button refers to the download in progress.

—Raphael Schindler
4 Jul 2017