This week’s article discusses performance load, the amount of mental and physical effort that will be necessary in order to complete a task. Performance load may be split into two categories: cognitive, which is the degree of mental activity required and kinematic, which is the amount of physical effort required to complete a task. Cognitive load encompasses more than simply the sheer amount of mental work required for a task; it also covers other psychological factors such as demand for said task (Plass, Moreno, & Brünken, 2010). The article states that the greater the performance load the higher chance of errors there will be. Perceived ease of use can greatly influence both user’s behaviour and acceptance of technology (Venkatesh, 2000) and it is understood that a user’s initial relationship with a device may be determined by perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use (Gefen & Straub, 2000). Reducing effort required to operate devices serves a major purpose in technological advancement (Haftor, 2010) and should be considered when designing user friendly products.
This article discusses chunking, specifically the chunking of information in order to reduce cognitive load and appeal more to users. Chunking is the act of splitting up information into smaller, more specific parts in order to make it easier to process and remember, for example reading out a phone number in groups of three or four numbers rather than reciting the whole number at once (Meyer, 2016). It may also be utilised in the form of breaking up information which a user is required to fill out, such as separating out the lines required to fill in an address into road number, road name, state and postcode. Chunking is understood to be effective across a variety of mediums such as audio, video and visual images and, as a result, it serves a valuable purpose in visual design. Research has shown that the human short-term memory is limited to approximately four separate pieces of information but grouping information into several ‘chunks’ of four or fewer items can serve to assist in recalling more information. Chunking information in a visual design context can involve splitting up a large topic into many separate sub topics, creating shorter paragraphs and splitting up long numbers, all of which will help a reader understand the information more clearly and prevent them from becoming overwhelmed or easily bored. Chunking in visual design or web design may entail utilising a minimalist look in order to separate unrelated information, utilising bold titles for sub headings to make each topic clearer and grouping similar links together on menus (Meyer, 2016) all of this things will serve to clarify information. Chunking is a useful technique to utilise to both retrieve and convey information to a user more quickly and effectively.
Psychology in Design
I personally believe that psychology must always be considered an important aspect of design simply because in order to design a system that is useful and appealing to a user the user’s needs and desires must be understood. Psychology may also be helpful in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the average user and can then be further used in order to design systems that promote and encourage a user to utilise their strengths while accounting for their weaknesses. As the concept of usability becomes a greater factor in design a psychological approach becomes increasingly necessary in order to create simple methods to achieve more complex goals in technology use (Carroll, 1997). As a result of the human factors inherently involved in use of technology it is my belief that psychology must be considered when designing a product.
Carroll, J. M. (1997). Human-Computer Interaction: Psychology as a Science of Design. Annual Reviews Psychology , 61 – 83.
Gefen, D., & Straub, D. (2000). The Relative Importance of Perceived Ease of Use in IS Adoption: A Study of E-Commerce Adoption. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 1 – 28.
Haftor, D. (2010). Information and Communication Technologies, Society and Human Beings: Theory and Framework. Idea Group Inc.
Meyer, K. (2016, March 20). How Chunking Helps Content Processing. Retrieved from Nielsen Norman Group: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/chunking/
Plass, J. L., Moreno, R., & Brünken, R. (2010). Cognitive Load Theory. Cambridge University Press.
Venkatesh, V. (2000). Determinants of Perceived Ease of Use: Integrating Control, Intrinsic Motivation, and Emotion into the Technology Acceptance Model. Information Systems Research , 342 – 365.