Performance load Q3

Psychology plays a huge role in visual design, this is because when you look at something you have an immediate reaction to it, and feeling toward it. The look of a particular design, like we saw in week 1 with Aesthetics, can have an impact of how you feel towards the design, whether you will keep paying attention to it and if you feel comfortable enough to use it, whatever it may be. For this reason how the visual design is formatted and then perceived is very important to the designer and viewer, and therefor psychology has a bigger role than one might expect.

The psychological theory of design, as explained by German psychologists in 1920’s, states that people tend to organise visual elements into groups and their application takes advantage of the fact that the brain self organises information into an ‘orderly, regular, simple and symmetrical way’ (Taylor,2016). For example if you use this theory for designing a logo, it will be more memorable, and “visually arresting” (Taylor, 2016).

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.36.00 AM.png

Figure 1: Waitrose Honey (Taylor,2016)

A great example of this theory at use is the Waitrose honey jar logo. Designed by Turner Duckworth, using the Gestalt theory spoken about above, it uses implied shape in three difference ways: to indicate the letter ‘E’, the shape of a bee and finally a honey dipper. This intriguing use of shape and lines, draws the viewer in and makes it interesting for them to look at. This is very memorable for the buyer. ( Taylor,2016)

Examples of Performance load in everyday life

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 2.07.41 PM

Figure 2: GPS (45degreeslatitude,2012)


GPS systems are an everyday example of how performance load works, and how designers reduce it. Designers have reduced it by eliminating the need for people to remember routes, addresses and directions because its stored in the GPS. This efficiently deducts huge amounts of mental strain required when planning a journey or just going from place to place. When you use a GPS it has a list of regular address you go to, and routes planned as well, all this is to reduce the amount of cognitive and kinematic load when using the GPS.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 2.10.55 PM.png

Figure 3: Window winder (jalopnick, 2015)

Who remembers having to go through all that trouble to physically wind down their car window?! Some of you may still do this, like me, but its good to know that car designs have significantly improved and now the kinematic load has been greatly reduced. Now days we have an electronic button that we simply hold down a button which makes the window go up or down and even stop half way. Some cars you only have to press the button once and it does it for you. This is a great example of how designers have reduced the performance load thus making it easier for people to put their car windows up or down simply by pressing a button.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 2.26.56 PM

Figure 4: Air balloon pumps (,2013)

Gone are the days where you have to physically use your own breath to blow up a balloon. Though you are still doing some physical movement to perform this task, it is no where near as tiresome nor tedious as blowing it up using your mouth. Designers have significantly reduced kinematic load by inventing this tool, and its something that comes in hand, especially when blowing up balloons for a party! The reduction in the effort needed to do this task, means people are more willing to do it, it reduces frustration and increases overall satisfaction for the person. This is another prime example of designers reducing performance load for those tiring task no one really likes to do.



Figure 2: 45 degrees latitude. (2012). GPS. Retrieved from
Figure 4: Air balloon pump. (2013). Retrieved from
Figure 3: Jalopnik. (2015). Window winder. Retrieved from
Taylor, A. (2016). The psychology of design explained – Features. Digital Arts. Retrieved 20 May 2016, from

Performance Load Q2 – Chunking technique

When it comes to our working memory, less is more!

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 8.24.47 PM.png

Chunking information refers to the process of breaking down information into smaller for easily digested pieces ( so our brains can handle it efficiently!). Our brains need this extra help because the working memory can only hold limited amounts of information at any given time. (Malamed, n.d)

George A Miller invented the chunking method in 1956, because he realised that the working memory has limited capacity. Because we live in an age where we are bombarded by visual stimulation and information all day long, how could we possibly retain it all? By grouping this information into non random categories we could understand all of the information by better. Long strings of information is much harder to comprehend and remember than small chunks of information fed to us. As stated by Lidwell, Holden and Butler, “chunking seeks to accommodate short-term memory limits by formatting information into a small number of units” (Universal Principles of Design, 2003)

For example with regards to design and visual communication, if you were to give a presentation, the audience is more likely to pay attention and hopefully remember the information if it is presented in such a way that there are small chunks of information rather than long paragraphs and boring layout. This makes sense, who would be bothered to read all of that! If it looks hard and boring to read, you can almost be sure that most of the audience will not bother reading it or taking it in if they do. A presentation power point is far more attractive if there are nicely designed bullet points of small amounts of information, its short, sharp and to the point, exactly what our brains like to read! Simplicity goes a long way with visual communication.


Chunking Principle | Style Guide | Technical Writing | Software Engineering. (2016) Retrieved 19 May 2016, from

Lidwell, Holden, & Butler,. (2003). Aesthetic Usability effect.

Malamed, C. (2009). Chunking Information for Instructional Design. Retrieved 19 May 2016, from


Performance Load Q1

This week we explored the path of least resistance, that is Performance load.

Lidwell, Holden and Butler, explain Performance load as  “the degree of mental and physical activity required to achieve a task” (Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, 2003). Not only that the probability of successfully completing a goal depends upon the size of the performance load. Performance load is mad up of two types; Cognitive and kinematic load. Cognitive load is the amount of mental activity needed to complete an activity. More importantly it proposes that working memory is limited, making unmanaged and complex information result in cognitive overload (Chandler & Sweller) There is a limit to the amount of information that can be used, processed and stored by the working memory, and overloading that limit undermines the learning process ( Chaudhry,2010)

The reduction of cognitive load reduces the mental strain when using computers. They did this by ” minimizing visual noise, chunking information that must be remembered, using memory aids to assist in recall and problem solving and automating computation – and memory intensive tasks” (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2003).The success of computers is largely because of the reduction of cognitive load. Kinematic load is the physical effort needed to complete a task. General ways that they reduced the Kinematic load was by “reducing the number of steps required to complete tasks, minimizing range of motion and travel distances, and automating repetitive tasks” (Lidwell, Holden & Butler,2003). When the telegraph was invented and communication was carried out by mechanical tapping out each letter. The number of taps needed to carry out this tedious exercise was the kinematic load, as you can imagine it wasn’t very efficient. But effort was made such as the common letters being ‘e’ was a single tap, whilst letters like ‘q’ were much longer and drawn out. This was an effort to reduce loading, ( Doctor Disruption,2011).

Reducing the performance load means tasks become easier therefor less time wasted and the likelihood of completion increases.



Chandler, P. & Sweller, J. (1991). Cognitive Load Theory and the Format of Instruction. Cognition And Instruction, 8(4), 293-332.

Doctor Disruption. (2011). Retrieved 18 May 2016, from

Lidwell, Holden, & Butler,. (2003). Aesthetic Usability effect.

M. Chaudhry. What is Cognitive Load Theory? Retrieved 05 15, 2014, from HubPages: /hub/What-is-Cognitive-Load-Theory. 2010.