You're Not the User

Generally speaking, developers are people that have the ability to handle a higher cognitive load. By nature, programming is so complicated that people are more likely to be good at it if they can hold lots of stuff in their working memory while coding. Generally programmers aren’t the target audience.

Most typical users of websites will actually run out of working memory while attempting the task at hand. To design great digital experiences we have to consider how users engage with the content. This should include a consideration for the audiences’ general ability to handle cognitive load. It becomes even more of a consideration when you start taking into account the different devices that users will be consuming that content from.

Virtual Scratchpads

Even if the primary task of the digital experience is more associated with reading, designers must understand the different kinds of information and tasks users will need to keep in their working memory. The key is to give them the UI features that will help them in completing that task.

If the concept of working, or external memory and cognitive load are not totally familiar to you, than this is a great article to introduce you to how memory plays a part in user experience and how it can be a key ingredient to creating a great digital experience.

Working Memory and External Memory

Human working memory holds information relevant to the current task; when tasks are too hard, users should be able to offload some of the working-memory burden to user-interface features that can serve as an external memory.

Main photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash