“Performance load is the degree of mental and physical activity required to achieve a goal.” (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2003). When a performance load is high there is an increase in errors and performance time with the probability of accomplishing the task decreasing. Whereas, when the performance load is low there is a decrease of performance time and errors, and the probability of completing the task increasing. There is two specific types of performance load, cognitive and kinematic load.
Cognitive load refers to the mental effort required to complete the activity. Computers achieved cognitive load by implementing a graphical user interface that reduced the amount of commands users had to remember in order to use the device. “Anything one can do to reduce cognitive load improves learning.” (Wieman, 2009). By reducing the mental effort required, this improves the ability of completing tasks.
Kinematic load is the amount of physical effort required to complete a goal. “Strategies for reducing kinematic load include reducing the number of steps required, minimising the rang of motion and travel distances.” (Principles of Design, 2011). Reducing the amount of kinematic load in a task will raise the probability of completing a task.
In Peter Sheahan’s book ‘Generation Y’ he said, “Generation Y’s obsession to get what they want without investing the effort is rampant even in computer games.” As technology is improving it decreases large amounts of performance load.
“Chunking: A technique of combining many units of information into a limited number of units or chunks, so that the information is easier to process and remember.” (Lidwell, 2003, p. 40).
To simplify a design and reduce the cognitive load, a technique called chunking is applied. The method of chunking can reduce the amount of content into smaller pieces of information, making it easier for the user to understand. By breaking down the units of information it decreases the amount the user has to memorise, thus the performance load starts to decrease with the rate of completing the task increasing.
Chunking has been described by CA Software in Practice as, “A strategy used to improve memory performance. It helps you present information in a way that makes it easy for your audience to understand and remember.” (Chambers, 2013). To make it easier and more understandable to comprehend, users can essentially by chunking information can then access and retrieve the information easier and quicker. Chamber states that to make the content intelligible, “a digestible unit of information contains no more than nine separate items of information.” (Chambers, 2013). To improve the likelihood of the viewer remembering the content they read is achieved through simplifying and reducing the units of information. By placing key ideas into dot points, for a speech, shows a good example of the chunking method. This allows the person utilising this method of chunking to remember key points of their speech with only a glance at the dot points.
To understand the effects of visual design the study of psychology is necessary. Visual designs are seen as more effective through the use of applying psychological theories. By conducting experiments on how visual design effects the different types of consumers allows creators to design their products according to the study. Stephen P Anderson states that, “to be a good designer in today’s society, you need to have an understanding of psychology, human behaviour, and the little shortcuts, the little quirks, in the way people operate.” (Anderson, 2012). Essentially this states that great designers need to understand how the mind of their target audience of consumers works, which is done through the study of psychology.
Anderson, S. P. (2012, August 21). Bring a little psychology to Web design. Retrieved from http://getmentalnotes.com/
Chambers. (2013). Chunking Principle. Retrieved from http://www.chambers.com.au/glossary/chunking_principle.php
Lidwell, W. (2003). Chunking. In Universal Principle of Design (p. 40). Massachusetts: Rockport.
Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Performance Load. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 148-149). Massachusetts: Rockport.
Sheahan, P. (2005). Impatient. In Generation Y (pp. 123-127). Victoria: Hardie Grant Books.
Unknown. (2011, December 4). Principles of Design. Retrieved from http://www.doctordisruption.com/design/principles-of-design-36-performance-load/
Wieman, C. (2009, March 23). A Scientific Approach To Science Education- Reducing Cognitive Load. Retrieved from http://www.science20.com/carl_wieman/scientific_approach_science_education_reducing_cognitive_load
An app that dramatically reduces cognitive load for users is the contacts list found in iPhone devices. The amount of memory space allowed on these devices have been able to decrease the cognitive load for the user. Thanks to these devices paper phone books are no longer needed. Having the phone book now as the contact list on your mobile phone allows the user to locate the person their after easier through search. Not only is there a decrease in cognitive load but also kinematic as there is less physical effort needed to find the contact.
Rather than having to manually wash a whole load of dishes, the dishwasher was created to reduce the amount of kinematic load. With the invention of the dishwasher it decreases the kinematic load as the machine does all the work for the user. The task of manually processing, washing and drying the dishes takes time and effort for the user, whereas the dishwasher eliminates these factors, decreasing the physical effort needed to complete the task. The reduction of kinematic load makes the task done quicker and efficiently.
The Paypass system was created by MasterCard Worldwide as an innovative way to pay for items under a hundred dollars. Cognitive load is reduced through the Paypass as users don’t have to remember the pin number. The process of purchasing has also been created quicker and easier as there is also no need for the buyer to sign a receipt.