Every goal requires energy. If you want to complete a task, you need to put in the effort, whether that be physical or mental


Portfolio 3, Q. 1

Performance load relates to the energy expenditure, whether mental or physical, that is required to complete a goal (Liddell et al., 2003, p. 148). Galitz (2007, p. 84) notes that a greater performance load will sacrifice usability, thus reducing the likelihood of accomplishing the goal.

Liddell, Holden and Butler (2003, p. 148) refer to cognitive load and kinematic load. Cognitive load is like the processing power of the human brain (Whitenton, 2003). Too much information and it becomes overload. In the same way, cognitive load is the mental activity required to use a product or system (Whitenton, 2003). Zheng (2012, p. 120) illustrates with the levels of problem solving necessary to complete a website task.  On the other hand, kinematic load is the physical activity required to use a product or system (Liddell et al., 2003, p. 148). For example, Morse code was designed on the principle that high-frequency letters were assigned the easier codes (Liddell et al., 2003, p. 148).


Chunking allows a user to complete complex problem solving tasks by reducing unnecessary load (Liddell et al., 2003, p. 148). Redish (2000, p. 166) Illustrates with a website where page elements are chunked into bite-sized pieces.


Portfolio 3, Q. 2

Huthwaite (2007, pp. 178 – 179) describes the process of simplifying the design of a product for the benefit of the consumer. To do this, he suggests chunking, the process that combines functions of a product (Huthwaite, 2007, p. 179). Liddell, Holden and Butler (2003, p. 148) talk about “eliminating unnecessary information.” Martin (2011, p. 99) describes the benefits of chunking as consumers are not trying to recall lengthy sequences of letters, symbols and numbers. He illustrates with the use of a password (Martin, 2011, p. 99). A password is necessary for security, but easy-to-remember combinations are essential for consumers. Thus, supporting systems are often set up for consumers. Or otherwise, secret questions where only the consumer knows the answer are available, making the password experience more user-friendly (Martin, 2011, p. 99). Harrod (n.d., “Chunking”) details the times when chunking is necessary in design, such as when other distractions are competing for attention (i.e. a ringing telephone). Thus, chunking the design allows the consumer to multitask between competing distractions without being overwhelmed by information such as long codes. Liddell, Holden and Butler (2003, p. 148) talk about “reducing unnecessary steps”. For example, the evolution of the telephone illustrates this principle. A consumer once needed to remember phone numbers, email addresses and other information, but now a phone has a built-in memory. The task of ringing a friend does not necessarily include dialling a number, but rather pressing a single button that dials the number. Huthwaite (2007, p. 181) also illustrates with the Swiss Army knife that integrated several different knives and instruments into the one design. He describes this as “integral product architecture” where “functional elements are integrated into one or very few chunks” (Huthwaite, 2007, p. 180).


Portfolio 3, Q. 3

Psychology is necessary to develop more effective design. Liddell (2003, p. 148) highlights the role of perception in cognitive load. Volker (2010, p. 23) suggests that design affects different people in varying ways, because of the diversity of cultures, the different interpretations, meanings and symbols attached to design.  Mugge, Schoormans and Schifferstein (2008, p. 438) concur that people assign different meanings to product design. The assigned meaning relates to the attachment that a consumer places on a design (Mugge et. al., 2008, p. 437). Schmitt (p. 198) suggests that “design goes beyond sensory elements”, suggesting that design moves into a “way of thinking”. Moreover, Liddell (2003, p. 148) highlights the role of the mental load and chunking in design. Thus, for the consumer to relate to the product with less mental strain, the attached meaning of the design must be rational and comprehensible.


Portfolio 3, Activity 


These children’s toys illustrate the principles of performance load. The simplicity of design matches the age group. A simple press of the button provides an easy learning tool. The different coloured shapes gives parents a visual learning aid. The goal of seeing the turtle head pop out does not expend  the toddler’s efforts.


It may be an antique radiogram, but even still, the principles of performance load are demonstrated. The switches are user-friendly. The tuning knob correlates to the stations. The user does not require a complex manual to operate it.


From an antique to the modern design of a remote control, there are more buttons, but still they are easily identifiable. The buttons are designed with a user-friendly arrangement. The symbols are well-known. The package is easy-to-read.




Galitz, Wilbert O. (2007).  The Essential Guide to User Interface Design: An Introduction to GUI Design Principles and Techniques, Third Edition. Indiana: Wiley Publishing.

Harrod, Martin (n.d.). “Chunking.” Interaction Design Foundation. Retrieved from

Huthwaite, Bart (2007). The Lean Design Solution. Michigan: Institute for Lean Innovation.

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic-Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design. Massachusetts: Rockport. 

Martin, James William (2011). Unexpected Consequences: Why the Things We Trust Fail. California: Praeger.

Mugge, Ruth; Schoormans, Jan P. L. & Schifferstein, Hendrik N. J. (2008). “Product Attachment: Design Strategies to Stimulate the Emotional Bonding to Products.”  pp. 425-438. Taken from Schifferstein, Hendrik N. J. & Hekkert, Paul (Eds.), Product Experience. California, USA: Elsevier.

Redish, Janice C. (2000). “What is Information Design?” Technical Communication.  Retrieved from–Redish.pdf

Schmitt, Bernd (2016). “The Design of Experience.” Taken from Batra, Rajeev; Seifert, Colleen & Brei, Diann (Eds.), The Psychology of Design: Creating Consumer Appeal. New York & London: Routledge.

Volker, Leentje (2010). Deciding about Design Quality. Leiden: Sidestone Press.

Whitenton, Kathryn (2013, December 22). “Minimize Cognitive Load to Maximize Usability.” Nielson Norman Group. Retrieved from

Zheng, Robert Z. (2012). “Net Geners’ Multi-Modal and Multi-Tasking Performance in Complex Problem Solving.” pp. 107-128. Taken from Ferris, Sharmilla Pixy (ed.), Teaching, Learning, and the Net Generation: Concepts and Tools for Reaching Digital Learners. USA: Information Science Reference.