The road to maximum usability leads through minimal cognitive load

  • There is no time for perfection, optimal is enough: When searching, we don’t have time to find the best result (we would have to read all the pages all the way through!), so we are ready to accept the first viable option. Why wouldn’t we? It is easy to correct errors on the web: use the “back” button.
  • It is no coincidence that the “back” button is the most commonly used feature of browsers.
  • When reading and gathering information, we look at both online and offline interfaces with anticipation: we have existing assumptions and expectations about the given visual interface. As we read, we jump forward again and again, in which case we practically validate our existing expectations.
  • When users don’t get ahead on a particular website, they mostly don’t bother to read any FAQ’s or information materials. Hence, many times they don’t even know exactly what and how to use on the actual site, they simply muddle through the problem. Thus, many pages are misused, but still lead to the users’ successfully getting what they want. Krug labeled this Bushwhacker Technique.

Buffer overflow in the brain

The responsibility is the designer’s not the user’s

There are two types of cognitive loads: internal and external

The most common causes of cognitive overload?

Let’s see what can make things harder for users and how to avoid them!

  • Reading (too much/too long texts)
  • Scrolling
  • Unnecessary energy consumption to find relevant information
  • Understanding the information needed (complicated texts that are difficult to interpret)
  • Unnecessary clicks/touches
  • Typing, textual input
  • Page loading and long waiting time
  • Unnecessary memory load: a plethora of information that the user must memorize when using the page.
LINGsCARS: everything is in constant motion in this outdated page
Users benefit from a wide range of color and icon options on the Bunq page

Minimize the cognitive load!

  • Visual clutter
  • The use of unnecessary, irrelevant images and links
  • A confusing world of colors
  • Unexpressive links
  • Variable margins and line spacing
Ligatures (Wikipedia)
Where do I start?
Answer to the question “What should I write here?” A small albeit helpful gesture seen during the registration process on
Content blocks and adjacent boxes on They also help to separate information for the user, while treating those related together.
A simple, helpful way to record data on the Bunq page: select what document you are adding to the system and simply photograph and upload it.
Google Assistant
Transferring money using Kate

Build on the user’s existing mental models

  • Related to our problems
  • Meet our interest
  • Stimulus words we constantly pay attention to: our own name, “free”, “sale”, and so on. (Krug, 2006.)
Rabobank registration
Icon and tasteful color selection in the GraniteBank Digital Banking application
Google image results for the “registration” icon



Ergomania Product Design (Gold partner of FinTech Belgium) specialises in FinTech, UX research, UX — UI design and Service design.

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Ergomania UX

Ergomania UX


Ergomania Product Design (Gold partner of FinTech Belgium) specialises in FinTech, UX research, UX — UI design and Service design.