Week 3: Performance Load


Question 1: In your own words, write a summary of the article and provide critical analysis/discussion on the  topic(s) of the article

The article this week covered the topic of Performance Load. This refers to the degree of mental and physical activity needed to complete a task or achieve a goal. The higher the performance load the probability of completion/success decreases. While when performance load is low the chance of completion and success increases. Performance Load consists of two elements: cognitive load and kinematic load.

  • Cognitive Load: the amount of mental activity required in accomplishing a goal, including perceptual tasks, memory requirements and problem solving.
  • Kinematic Load: the amount of physical activity required to complete a task.

(Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, 2003)

Cognitive Load can be further expanded into three areas:

  • Intrinsic Cognitive Load: the complexity of the task at hand. However, we can manage it by chunking the information in to smaller problems so that each can be dealt with in turn before re-integrating the information back in to the whole.
  • Extraneous Cognitive Load: result of the way that the interface or information is presented and structured. A well designed and clear design will have a lower extraneous cognitive load than a badly designed one
  • Germane Cognitive Loading: This is the cognitive load we want to increase! It is the spare capacity to deal with the underlying information. The capacity available to perform the mental work that leads to understanding.

(Towers, 2010


Kognitive Load should be reduced making it easier and quicker for goals to be achieved. This may include less steps to complete a task or less distance or physical exertion requires. In order to minamise performance load designs can include the chunking of information and providing memory aids to help users.


Question 1 References:

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Universal Principles of Design. Massachusettes.

Towers, A. (2010). Cognitive Load.   Retrieved from http://usabilityfriction.com/2010/11/22/cognitive-load/


Question 2: The authors mentioned a design technique of “chunking” information to reduce cognitive load.  Define and describe the chunking technique in relation to design and visual commnication

Chunking is a term that in relation to design and visual communication means the grouping or dividing elements and information. This is done to make designs easier to use or information easier to understand. Chunking is often used as a strategy to reduce cognitive load. (“Chunking Strategy “, 2017)

 The authors mentioned a design technique of “chunking” information to reduce cognitive load.  Define and describe the chunking technique in relation to design and visual communication” (Harrod)

 Chunking allows more concepts and messages to be absorbed easily by users by creating focus. Chunking allows people to take smaller bits of information and combine them into more meaningful, and therefore more memorable, wholes.(Cherry, 2017)

In relation to design and visual communication chunking may include segmenting information on a webpage making it easier for users to read and obtain information quicker and easier.

“Chunking is a subtle but powerful design principle that can help improve the overall usefulness of systems.  The primary goal of chunking is to help in situations where the commitment of information to working memory is required” (Harrod)




Cherry, K. (2017). What is Chunking and Can it Improve your memory? .   Retrieved from https://www.verywell.com/chunking-how-can-this-technique-improve-your-memory-2794969

Chunking Strategy (2017).   Retrieved from http://thepeakperformancecenter.com/educational-learning/thinking/chunking/chunking-as-a-learning-strategy/

Harrod, M. Chunking.   Retrieved from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/book/the-glossary-of-human-computer-interaction/chunking


Question 3: The authors borrowed ideas traditionally studied by the psychology to discuss effective visual  design. Why do you think a study of psychology is necessary (or not necessary) in design.

A study of psychology is necessary in visual design, as it allows for designers to have a greater understanding of how their designs can be bettered due to and understanding how the mind and its response to elements. Knowing what makes people perceive designs as easier to use, more appealing and entertaining is vital to ensuring designs are the best they can be.Effective visual design utilises studies of psychology as it aids in how to build the right relationship between user and design to generate the desired response to the design. Designs that ignore these studies will have a harder time interacting with people and have a limited understanding of how best to develop design with the user at the heart of it.


Provide 3 visual examples of products or artefacts (found in everyday surroundings) that satisfy the design principle of Performance Load. Upload them and provide a brief explanation as to why the products satisfy the design principle.

  1. Apple Pay


Apple Pay reduces performance load required when purchasing items. It means users don’t have to remember to take their bank card with them when they go out, as long as they have their phone they can pay. This means less items to carry around it also means less cognitive load ad users don’t even need a pin anymore. They can simply use their fingerprint through their phone to approve the purchase which also reduces kinematic load.

2. Remote Keys


Remote keys reduce performance load as 3 simple buttons form the main controls, therefor reducing cognitive load. It also reduces kinematic load as it allows people to simple press a button rather than insert and rotate a key. It also allows cars to be opened from a distance rather than having to be right next to it. The use of symbols on the buttons reduces performance load as this is easier for users to understand and remember.

3. Google Home.


Google home is a voice activated speaker that acts as a home assistant. One way it reduces performance load is through its voice activation. Users can simply say ‘hey google’ from anywhere in the home to activate it. This means users don’t have to be right next to it to use it, this simple activation phrase also reduces cognitive load as there is no need to memories multiple phrases and actions for use. Google home also reduces performance load as it will tell users the information they request meaning users and gain information quickly without having to stop and read. Google home can set alarms, send emails and texts and play music which eliminated the usual performance load for doing these tasks.


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