How the Chunking Method Improves Usability

When it comes to different websites and applications, using the chunking method can be excellent for improving usability. The user interface always comprises of basics. It’s everything that a visitor comes to see and know. Moreover, it is something a visitor remembers. In this post, we’ve discussed the importance of using the chunking method to improve usability, and its effect on interface design. Every designer should bear in mind these principles while designing the user interface.

What is the Chunking Method?

Chunking can easily break up long strings of relevant information into chunks or units. These chunks are easier to remember and commit to the memory than an uninterrupted and longer string of information. According to designing experts, chunking seems to work through all mediums, including sounds, text, videos and pictures. For instance, a phone number like (0123456789) is easier to remember when it’s written as 012/345/6789.

When to Use the Chunking Method?

If you consider a checklist containing 50 items, it may seem overwhelming. Chunking is the basic practice of categorizing similar items. This makes the checklist more manageable. It means a basic checklist of 50 to-do items may just make up five chunks. Once you focus on these chunks, you’re able to give your undivided attention to tackle each one.

Chunking is extremely beneficial when some information needs to be memorized for future use. Websites and applications need to make liberal use of this practice to aid in improved usability and end-user memorization.

Chunking can also be ideal in different environments where the user interface needs to compete against some other stimuli for the working memory or attention of the end user. Some of these may include cell phones, car navigation systems and public kiosks.

If you consider a health practitioner working in an emergency room, he may have to :

● Manage a wide range of auditory and visual stimuli like people talking, rapid movement and telephones ringing.

● Work quickly to memorize various moments after looking at an interface to extract important information.

● Enter this crucial information into many different systems without any benefit of referring back to the different sources.

● Use traditional systems which can’t be reprogrammed to carry data from one screen or interface to another.

● Skip writing any information because of privacy legislation and other restrictions.

The same is considered to be true for many other environments. Effective use of the chunking method can easily improve usability, while increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the information system.

When understood and applied in proper context, chunking can be a very subtle and powerful design principle. Without using a lot of efforts, time and resources, chunking can improve the usefulness of various systems. It is important to understand that the primary objective of chunking is to help people in situations where information needs to be committed to working memory.

Chunking can be quite helpful by breaking these long strings of information, and create small-sized chunks which are easier to remember, especially when a person’s memory is against competing stimuli. In the last couple years, designers from all walks of life have realized the importance of chunking for providing better user interface and improving usability. This has made the chunking method extremely popular.


Jessica Miller
Jessica is the Lead Author & Editor of UsabilityLab Blog. Jessica writes for the UsabilityLab blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to usability.
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