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Extraneous Cognitive Load

Extraneous Load – It refers to the load placed by UI element/information which is irrelevant to the task at hand. It taxes the information processing capabilities of a user. Its a negative load for the working memory. So we need to reduce/eliminate them from interfaces.
Extraneous load is caused due to following factors
  • Meaningless Aesthetics – It refers to meaningless typography, graphics, animation etc. While performing a task user is required to understand new information, store important information(if any), retrieve old information. Sudden animated popups can disrupts this flow or meaningless typography/graphics can make the task more time consuming.
  • Poor Structure –  Visual component compete against each other for user attention. As said earlier working memory capacity is limited. So it would be big wastage of cognitive resources if user ends up attending irrelevant components.This problem can be solved by balancing the placement & relative size of component in accordance with its functional importance.
  • Surplus Information – It relates to those information / UI component which are relevant to task but its presence is non-essential. Non-essential are those which go unnoticed or remain unused most of the time.
Extraneous Load Impact – Total Cognitive load exceeding working memory limit.
  • Slowdown information processing speed.
  • User may abandon task.Distract & confuse user.
  • Result in low adoption with respect to feature usage.
Conclusion
Be aware of cognitive requirements imposed by UI / information / aesthetics. Remove all distractions & meaningless elements contained within task interface.

Published in UX

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