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Cognitive Load Theory – Avoiding the Cobweb of Thoughts

  • Post published:September 29, 2020

“Don’t Make Me Think” This is the secret to user experience design

Steve Krug’s groundbreaking book “Don’t Make Me Think” poses a question that has captivated web designers for years. Steve uses Cognitive Load Theory, which is an integral part of Psychology to understand consumer behavior. Cognitive Load Theory essentially addresses how human cognition works and responds to external stimuli. Our brain has a certain memory resource that is occupied when we are engaged in a task or when we process information. The higher information our brain is subjected to, the higher the cognitive load we face and vice versa.

Cognitive Load Theory holds quite valuable when it comes to user experience design. Krug’s philosophy in user experience design was simple. It was to make the visitors think as less as possible when they are on a website. In simple words, excessive thinking is what causes cognitive overload and if your website is allowing your visitors to think too much then you need to make some pressing changes.

Here are some of the ways you can minimize cognitive load from your website:

Cognitive Load Theory – Avoiding the Cobweb of Thoughts 1

1- User Experience Design should have Minimal content:

Ever wondered minimalistic design and content is the new thing in web design? Well, in essence, it’s because of cognitive load minimization. Minimal design and content itself can largely reduce cognitive load because of its ability to present information while maintaining its sleek appearance. Minimal designs work quite well in terms of user experience design enhancement and are able to get the desired results in an efficient manner. You can gain a serious advantage over your customers if you can design accordingly.

2- Stimulation – Don’t Overdo it:

Flashy texts and images do stimulate a human’s brain. Stimulating the brain through these mediums instantly captures a person’s attention. However, overdoing it is pretty bad and is against minimalist design, to begin with. Using images and texts without overdoing is certainly possible and helps in maintaining an overall balance in your website.

3- Don’t Provide too many Options:

Going on a new website can be overwhelming. You certainly don’t want to make the mistake of providing too many options to your visitors especially if they’re new. Bombarding your visitors with options like signing up for a newsletter, wanting their information, wanting feedback or even a few other pop-ups can ruin the User Experience Design. Of course, you need to ask for information, just don’t press them unnecessarily.

4- Text That Engages:

Don’t write copies and copies of textual information. There’s no use of it as people will never read what you have typed or rather rambled up. The better mode of action would be to use attractive headlines and content that is to the point. You can get more leads using a minimalistic approach in the content. Also, one can’t forget the fact that too much content increases cognitive load and we bet your visitors are going to run away.

5- Page Design Deviation:

User experience design needs to be maintained throughout a website. If there’s deviation within pages then it does mess with the cognitive load and users can get overwhelmed. It’s almost like when you enter a new house and you have to navigate within the rooms. Imagine for a second that all the rooms you navigate are completely different in design. The same happens to a user when he moves from one page to another. The deviation becomes a little too much for users and the cognitive load increases exponentially.

6- Pages that are Hard to Find:

Websites, where pages are hard to find, is a quick turn off for many visitors. Imagine going through all those tabs and still not being able to find the relevant page. Try to understand that a major portion of your visitors will not be patient and the harder you make for them to complete an objective the more likely is that they will leave the page.

7- Make Them Think Less:

It all comes down to one simple thing. If you make them think less and make sure they get what they want, you have a minimized cognitive load. User Experience Design is the key here as the overall design can make a huge difference.

In a Nutshell:

Steve Krug’s makes another pressing point regarding testing your website:

“If you want a great site, you’ve got to test. After you’ve worked on a site for even a few weeks, you can’t see it freshly any more you know too much. The only way to find out if it really works is to test it.”

Steve Krug

The truth is that it’s hard to make a website that fully falls on the criterion we discussed above. This is because of the fact that cognitive load works differently for different people and even niches. Hence, testing a website design is essential. Once you test it, don’t stop. Keep on testing again and again until you find something that truly is easy on the eyes and brain. Let us know if you’re looking for a website or UI/UX designers who follow this approach with utmost perfection.