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Cognitive Load

As an UXer, we have a responsibility to deliver design solutions which is usable. Which means user should able to accomplish desired goal at a pace & at a level of complexity that they can cope up with. So we need to design considering human mind’s capabilities & capacities. Exploring cognitive load can help us a lot in this regard. Below are some of my takeaways with respect to cognitive load.
  1. Cognitive load refers to load placed on working memory with respect to information processing.
  2. It can never  be bought down to zero. Some amount of load will always be there. We as designer can only provide a solution which is effective enough to minimize this load.
  3. Working memory has very limited  storage capacity. Also note, stored information decays very fast.
  4. When the incoming information exceed the cognitive limits, our performance suffer. We tend to feel uninterested in the current task and abandon it or commit errors or do something unexpected or take long time to finish it.
  5. At times there can be a task which is long but requires less cognitive load and vice-a-versa.
  6. Cognitive load varies from user to user. Eg:- cognitive burden on novoice will always be higher than the expert user.
  7. Also note, in some cases cognitive load may reduce gradually. Repeated use / multiple rehearsal triggers communication between working memory and long term memory. Comparatively long term memory has good storage capacity and information decay tends to be very low. Once information has been captured in long term memory things will run smooth for user.
To be continued …

Published in UX


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