What is Human Memory?
Memory is a vital part of how we perceive the world around us. Human beings have both short-term and long-term memory capacities, and we can create better designs by understanding how memory works and how we can work with that capacity rather than against it. This is important for all designers but particularly so for information visualization designers who need to ensure that their work is readily understood by the viewer in order for it to be immediately useful.
Human memory is a powerful mental process that has many implications on life and how you experience things, from remembering meaningful events to enabling you to execute tasks and achieve goals.
In essence, human memory has three facets: sensory memory, short-term memory and long-term memory. The designer is most concerned with the first two types and strategically designs to appeal to short-term and sensory memory.
Perhaps one of the most useful bits of information about human memory is that humans have trouble remembering and engaging with anything that has more than 7 (give or take 2) task items. Designers take this memory limitation into account when presenting information and wireframing products, in order to provide the most memorable and efficient user experience.
Literature on Human Memory
Here’s the entire UX literature on Human Memory by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:
Learn more about Human Memory
Take a deep dive into Human Memory with our course Information Visualization .
Information visualization skills are in high demand, partly thanks to the rise in big data. Tech research giant Gartner Inc. observed that digital transformation has put data at the center of every organization. With the ever-increasing amount of information being gathered and analyzed, there’s an increasing need to present data in meaningful and understandable ways.
In fact, even if you are not involved in big data, information visualization will be able to help in your work processes as a designer. This is because many design processes—including conducting user interviews and analyzing user flows and sales funnels—involve the collation and presentation of information. Information visualization turns raw data into meaningful patterns, which will help you find actionable insights. From designing meaningful interfaces, to processing your own UX research, information visualization is an indispensable tool in your UX design kit.
This course is presented by Alan Dix, a former professor at Lancaster University in the UK. A world-renowned authority in the field of human-computer interaction, Alan is the author of the university-level textbook Human-Computer Interaction. “Information Visualization” is full of simple but practical lessons to guide your development in information visualization. We start with the basics of what information visualization is, including its history and necessity, and then walk you through the initial steps in creating your own information visualizations. While there’s plenty of theory here, we’ve got plenty of practice for you, too.
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