When I’m surfing the web, the mouse pointer is my point of focus. I know most people don’t do that but I move the mouse pointer near the place that I’m looking at. When I’m reading I often select the paragraph I’m reading. This makes it easier to get back when I got distracted. On image galleries, my mouse pointer moves over the images while my eyes glance at the images.
Now try this on the UI Parade. The previews get dimmed out when the cursor is over them. Don’t do that! The object in focus should be highlighted not hidden. As a interface designer you have the mouse pointer as the only hint where the users focus might be. Don’t hide that piece of information.
“So, should I enlarge the image at the cursor?” you might ask. No, don’t do that either! Not even when enlarging the image does not hide or move the other items on the page. Imagine a user that has to move the mouse from outside the browser window to the nice image in the corner that she just noticed. If you resize the twenty-something images she touches on the mouse cursor’s path, it is both annoying and wrong. These are not the point of focus.
Oh, and don’t delay the enlarging. When you reached the point of focus, your brain starts to concentrate. Don’t disrupt that by “suddenly” moving something.
Make your highlighting simple, unobtrusive, and non-distracting.