Performance load is the degree of mental and physical activity required for completing a task. If you have a high performance load, performance time and errors are bound to increase and the likelihood of successfully completing the task decreases. If your performance load is low your performance time and errors diminish, and the chance of successfully accomplishing your goal increases.
There are two types of performance loads: Cognitive and Kinematic.
Cognitive load, as the name suggests is the amount of brain power, perception, memory and problem solving required for solving a problem or completing a task.“Cognitive load theory is a comprehensive and proven instructional theory that illustrates ways to reduce unproductive forms of cognitive load and at the same time maximize productive sources of cognitive load that lead to efficient learning environments.” (Clark, R., Nguyen, F., & Sweller, J., 2011).
Kinematic load is the amount of physical activity that is required to complete a task. Lidwell, Holden, & Butler use the telegram as an example and explained it as “The number of taps to communicate a message was the kinematic load for that task” (Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, 2010). The kinematic load can be minimised by eliminating steps that are not essential to complete a task.
When I was learning how to write HTML and CSS we were not allowed to use Dreamweaver we had to use Notepad, so we had to remember all the different commands and tags needed to create a working HTML page. That was the cognitive load for that task trying to remember what came next and if I had used the right sequence and trying to figure out where you made a mistake if the code doesn’t work. The use of Dreamweaver cut down my work load and cognitive load significantly with short cuts and code hints.
Chunking is a technique that can be used to make remembering relatively lengthy strings of information a little bit easier. It is particularly useful when we only need to remember something for a short period of time. Chunking involves taking long strings of information and grouping (chunking) them into smaller more manageable bits of information.
“The reason the brain needs assistance is because of the working memory, which is where we manipulate information, holds a limited amount of information at one time” (Malamed, 2009).
Chunking when in relation to design should be applied to information users will need to recall and or commit to memory. Chunking can help users hold onto the information they need when confronted by other competing stimuli.
Chunking can help to improve cognitive load in design and visual communications as users will not have to analyse or remember a number of different pieces of information. They will instead be directed to one “chunk” of material which gives them adequate information.
Here is a good example of chunking in visual design from the Nike website.
Chunking works on the premise that the average human’s working memory can be quite easily overloaded by excessive detail. The ultimate way to avoid this dilemma of being overwhelmed by indigestible information is to arrange it in small, meaningful units that can be strung together to appear much less daunting.
Psychology is an important part of visual design. People often have psychological reactions upon seeing certain designs. As we saw in learning portfolio 1, aesthetics play a major role in population’s response to a design. Aesthetics can either produce positive or negative emotional responses to specific designs.
Designers often use Gestalt Theories (developed by German psychologists in the 1920s, Gestalt theories explain how people tend to organise visual elements into groups, and how the whole is often greater than its parts (Taylor 2013)).Used Gestalt principles in a logo can make it more interesting, more visually engaging and therefore it makes the message more memorable.
And of course colour symbolism plays a huge role in visual design. Different colours are said to evoke different emotions, and in turn that plays a major role in psychology of design. You wouldn’t want to do the branding and logos for a depression website in black and dark colours because that’s not the first thing someone wants to see when seeking help.
Malamed, C. (2009, Semptember 30) The Learning Coach. [Blog Post].
Retrieved from http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/chunking-information/
Taylor, A. (2013, January 18) Digital Arts. [Website].
Retrieved from http://www.digitalartsonline.co.uk/features/graphic-design/psychology-of-design-explained/
Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2010). Universal Principles of Design, Revised and Updated: 125 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design (ed.). : Rockport Publishers.
FAQ_Link_on_Nike.jpg (n.d.) [Digital Image] Retrieved June, 4 2014 from
htmldreamweaver.png (n.d.) [Digital Image] Retrieved June, 4 2014 from