Writing of the week
How does our brain's processing work? Is it the same as a computer? What capacity do we have?
Let's imagine that we are using several software and our computer is not able to process such an amount of data, what can we do? We can, on the one hand, reduce the number of tasks that our programs are performing, or increase the processing capacity, improving the parts of our computer. If we make the analogy with our brain, the second option would be unfeasible, at least, for now, we are not able to increase the memory slots that our brain is capable of working simultaneously.
But, the first option, the reduction of tasks, we can make it. When we are working with many tasks, what do we sacrifice? We sacrifice the performance of individual tasks, we find it much more difficult to process the information in each of them, we reduce the understanding of details or, directly, we abandon the task we are performing, as we feel overwhelmed.
Here comes the concept of cognitive load, which is nothing more than the available mental resources we need to complete a certain task, although in the past it was used to refer to the amount of mental resources we need to learn something, but both definitions are perfect for us, or don't you have to learn how a navigation system works or the architecture of the product you are using?
Honorable mention for Nielsen's fourth heuristic, conventions and standards. In the end, we'll always reflect what we've seen in other products and how they're used to the new product we're going to use, so that our brain doesn't have to process all the information from scratch. This would be the base information we start with, but we have to add the extra information to complete the task we have as a goal, so it would be on one hand the base (standards) plus the specific one (task).
Going back to what I was saying, you can't buy more processing for your brain (hopefully), so who is responsible for minimizing this? We, the designers, but how?
For this case, we can divide the cognitive load in two, the intrinsic and the irrelevant one.
The intrinsic cognitive load is the effort we must make to absorb the information and be able to use and keep it, while the irrelevant is the extra information we don't need to understand the context or perform a task, being this the one we must minimize as much as possible reducing the visual pollution, or the irrelevant and redundant information.
We can also minimize this cognitive load by designing according to the users' mental models or by offloading and facilitating the tasks to be performed (remembering priority information, self-filling fields, images...).
It is totally impossible to eliminate it completely, but these details will make us have more memory slots for important actions, such as decision making, since a cognitive overload negatively affects discoverability and completion rates.
Articles & Ideas
Product design principles (or, in short, design principles) are value statements that frame design decisions and support consistency in decision making across teams working on the same product or service. Maria Rosala
Design elements near each other are perceived as related, while elements spaced apart are perceived as belonging to separate groups. Aurora Haley
As we move more daily activities online, the structure of our digital places is more critical than ever. The Architecture of Information collects examples of intriguing information structures from the web and beyond. Jorge Arango
During Baymard’s large-scale usability testing, users almost universally sought user reviews when considering a product — up to 95% of users across desktop and mobile tests. Edward Scott
These iconic, low-resolution designs are the perfect tool to learn the basics of physical interface design. Armed with 52 different bricks, let’s see what they can teach us about the design, layout and organisation of complex interfaces. designed by cave
Given that Viers is blind, it might be surprising that it took her so long to learn her iPhone had a trick built specifically for her. Mark Wilson
The Knoster Model was created by Tim P. Knoster, Ed.D., professor at the McDowell Institute for Teacher Excellence in Positive Behavior Support. The model is the result of years of rigorous behavioral science research and testing. Mike Donahue
The quality of the electronic transmission of the human voice has come a long way since Bell summoned Watson. But even with all the advancement in technology, “Can you hear me now?” is still part of our modern lexicon. Jim Lewis, PhD and Jeff Sauro, PhD
Sir Tim Berners-Lee has a mind that races. He has been known — based on interviews and public appearances — to jump from one idea to the next. He is almost always several steps ahead of what he is saying, which is often quite profound. Jay Hoffman
In this article, I will review 5 best practices for using toggle switches in UI design and illustrate them with some excellent visual examples. Nick Babich
Use how you want, without attribution, by Corey Ginnivan
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