Cognitive Load is the level of effort needed to use a system.
Activities of the brain such as perception, memory and language can interfere with the thought processes of the user. For example when a user visits your website for the first time, they will experience the various UI elements on the site and how they relate to each other. They will try to figure out how they can perform the task they are visiting your site for. Each new UI element they come across will need to be stored in their memory. As they go through the site they keep storing more and more in to their memory and as you know there is a finite amount of space they have reserved for visiting your site. Once that memory limit has been reached and if they haven’t been able to perform their task then they will abandon ship.
So a user interface needs to minimize the cognitive load associated with using an interface. This will ensure that the user will have all their cognitive resources to use your website.
Ways to minimize cognitive load
- Avoid visual noise
- Use patterns that match mental models
- Reduce required tasks
- Don’t break the user’s low
- Allow users to recover from errors
- Use visual cues and clues
- Consider novice and expert users
Do you have any suggestions for this list? Let me know.