How visual hierarchy reduces cognitive load

If you watch one of Wes Andersons movies, you can notice a very distinct visual style. One of his typical styles is symmetry. But he doesn’t use it arbitrarily. Symmetry in his movies always highlights something important. It shows you what he considers important, instead of telling you. Which in itself is good storytelling. But it also tells us how important visual choices are. Especially in user interfaces, they are far more than frames and vessels. They help us understand without having to tell us explicitly.

It all looks the same

Imagine an interface where all buttons are the same, all choices equally, nothing stands…

When and how to give users more choices

Walking into a burrito bar for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. Big boards show you all the ingredients and everything that can be combined with what to create your perfect, customised burrito promising to deliver exactly what you want and how you like it. But you have no idea where to begin. Then you spot the pre-made burrito, and end up ordering the one that’s named after the place. Because if you have nothing to compare it to, how would you know what else to pick? …

The secret to non-invasive user guidance

“The secret to happiness is less choice”, says Barry Schwartz in his TED Talk The Paradox of Choice, concluding that too many choices can overwhelm and make it harder to choose. This leaves people more unhappy with the choice they made, even when it’s a better one.

There is a point to be made here for UI Design, and User Experience in general. Overwhelming users with choices because more equals better can make a product very hard to use, and finding the cause can be even more difficult because no mistakes were made to begin with. …

Kai Hacker

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