The poltergeist effect


Poltergeists move things invisibly (and confusingly or dangerously for house inhabitants. That’s very much what it feels like being on websites at the moment. Although it looks like the content is loaded, there are changes that happen a few seconds later that can lead to you losing your place, or clicking the wrong thing.

Web applications might also offer “intelligent” help to focus things or center them. Depending on the way we use the application (environment, user patterns, aims), these intelligent aspects might not help us – and they might be error-prone.

Waiting and observing which things move “of their own” accord is a way of using this knowledge to make a decision in exploratory testing.


I observeI am dealing with a dynamic website or application
I thinkI have painful user experience with the layout changing a couple of seconds after the content is loaded, leading me to click the wrong links for example.

There may be aspects of this page that move based on focus, time, loading or other factors.
My next stepI wait for a while and observe components or areas that move on their own. I explore whether navigation, reloading, selection or focus changes cause (unwanted) movement on the page.