Week 3: Performance Load

Discussion and reading for week 3 – Performance Load

Performance Load: Q4 Examples

Contact-less Payment

Contactless Payment


Figure 1.

Contact-less payment options, otherwise known as Paypass or Paywave, reduce both the kinematic and cognitive load involved in paying for items via card. The kinematic load is reduced as the user does not need to swipe their card or move their fingers in order to enter their pin. The cognitive load is reduced as the user does not need to remember their pin in order to purchase an item.


Contents Pages

Contents Page

Figure 2.

Content pages reduce cognitive and kinematic involved when searching for a page in a book. The cognitive load is reduced as readers do not need to scan the pages of the text or remember what information is on each page – it is already displayed for them. The kinematic load is reduced, for hard copy texts at least, as the reader doe not need to turn each individual page searching for their desired content.




Figure 3.

Calculators reduce the cognitive load associated with calculating math problems. The user does not need to remember math principles and theory in order to work out a problem, or remember the digits involved. Instead, the calculator can remember the digits in the precise order and solve the problem.



Figure 1 (n.d). In Paypass [Digital Image]. Retrieved May 31, from                                                                           http://www.paypass.pl/themes/paypass/img/lp/3/terminal.jpg

Figure 2 (n.d). In Security Risk [Digital Image]. Retrieved May 31, from                                                                 http://www.securityrisk.co.uk/bs7799/iso27002-1.gif

Figure 3 (n.d). In Phys [Digital Image]. Retrieved May 31, from                                                                                 http://cdn.phys.org/newman/gfx/news/hires/2012/calculator.jpg


Performance Load: Q3 Psychology

I believe the incorporation of psychology in design theory is incredibly important. In order to plan and predict how users will respond to a product, we must understand why they will respond in that way and what processes are utilised in order for them to come to that conclusion. Butler, Holden and Lidwell (2003, p. 148) maintain that cognitive load theory plays a major role in the design of a product. According to Budd (cited in Taylor, 2013) “To be a good designer in today’s society, you need to have an understanding of psychology, human behaviour, and the little shortcuts, the little quirks, in the way people operate.” Once you have this information on how the human brain and thinking works, you can tailor your product or design to get the desired emotion from the user.


Butler, J., Holden, K., & Lidwell, W. (2003). Performance Load. In Universal Principles of Design                   (pp. 148-149). Massachusetts: Rockport.

Taylor, A. R. (2013). The Psychology of Design Explained. 2015, from                                                                      http://www.digitalartsonline.co.uk/features/graphic-design/psychology-of-design-                              explained/


Performance Load: Q2 Chunking

Chunking is a technique to help remember information (Butler, Holden and Lidwell, 2003, p. 46). According to Malamed (2011) “When multiple elements of information are chunked as single elements, there is more working memory capacity available for solving problems and processing information”. In simple terms, chunking is when information is grouped or divided, making it more likely for the brain to remember it at a later time. Chunking is considered an effective instructional and educational technique, however it also occurs in everyday life without people paying much notice. For example when you try and recall a phone number, it is often remember in two or three ‘chunks’ rather than a sequence of individual numbers. There does not need to be a meaning behind the selections in a ‘chunk’, such as the first four digits being an area code. However if there is an underlying understanding behind the groups, the chance of remembering the information is greatly increased (Cooper, 1998).

Chunking is also used in design; however it is more of a visual representation. Categories of information are often grouped together.

This can be shown through:

  • Text boxes isolating a specific concept or idea;
  • The use of colour to link related ideas;
  • Selecting a page layout that groups ideas;
  • The use of headings and sub-headings to maintain one idea per paragraph; and
  • The incorporation of graphics to link ideas, such as arrows or lines.

Chunking is used to make communication and the transfer of information more efficient and streamlined, resulting in a higher likelihood of it being remembered. It is used in education, everyday life and design practices to achieve this.



Butler, J., Holden, K., & Lidwell, W. (2003). Performance Load. In Universal Principles of Design                     (pp. 148-149). Massachusetts: Rockport.

Cooper, Dr. G. (1998). Research into Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design at UNSW.                          2015, from http://dwb4.unl.edu/Diss/Cooper/UNSW.htm

Malamed, C. (2011). What is Cognitive Load?   , 2015, from                                                                                               http://theelearningcoach.com/learning/what-is-cognitive-load/

Performance Load: Q1 Summary

Performance load is the amount of work, both mental and physical, a task requires in order to be completed. The chances of a task being completed to a sufficient standard decrease when the amount of effort required increases (Butler, Holden and Lidwell, 2003, p. 148).  The mental effort required is known as the cognitive load, and the physical effort is kinematic load.

Cognitive load theory has led to the development of techniques that make information easier to remember (Sweller, 2011, p. 48). Cognitive load theory stresses the importance of working and long-term memory, and how knowledge of the memory types can lead to greater understanding of how to present information. If information is hard to read and unclear, or a page is poorly designed, there is less chance that it will be read and completely remembered (Erre, Ginns and Pitts, 2006). If a task isn’t complex, yet takes a long time to complete, it is said to have a high cognitive load (Ayres, Kalyuga and Sweller, 2011).

Butler, Holden and Lidwell (2003) mention that kinematic load is the amount of physical force required to complete a task. They don’t cover that this force differs between individuals, such as a disabled person needing to exert more to achieve the same goal.


Ayres, P., Kalyuga, S., & Sweller, J. (2011). Cognitive Load Theory. Australia: Springer.

Butler, J., Holden, K., & Lidwell, W. (2003). Performance Load. In Universal Principles of Design                       (pp. 148-149). Massachusetts: Rockport.

Erre, C., Ginns, P., & Pitts, C. (2006). Cognitive Load Theory and User Interface Design: Making                           Software Easy to Use. 2015, from http://www.ptg-                                                                   global.com/PDFArticles/Cognitive%20load%20theory%20and%20user%20interface%20design%20Part%201%20v1.0.pdf

Sweller, J. (2011). Cognitive Load Theory. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 55(1), 37-76.