September 19, 2017

If it doesn’t suit the cognitive processes of the user…

Woman thinking…then our work is useless.

We—or others—often congratulate ourselves on our efficiency in standardising a process or making electronic what once was a paper system.

The trouble is…

If in so doing we create something that no longer matches the cognitive processes the user or recipient used to use or needs to use, then we’ve broken something. And there’s more to this issue than the question of the user learning the new IT: More than that, it’s to do with the different ways people process information, as a matter of their wiring, if you like, and what they use the information for. We’re not all the same in that respect.

For example…

On-line diary or calendar systems are all very well—no doubt they save a multitude of trees, but if what you actually need is to contemplate the picture of the year as a whole in some detail, they’re useless. If you’ve ever tried manually planning a lengthy journey on a smartphone screen, you’ll have experienced a similar difficulty.

Inconveniently, we need to present our information the way that suits the recipient, not the way that suits us. Deny them that and we may deny ourselves the outcome we want.

The form of presentation of the information can be as important as the information itself.

How much are you aware of how you process information—or how the people around you do?