(This is the fourth in a series about cognition and how it relates to medical product design).
Effective medical product design is that which reduces complexity. Experiments have shown that we can hold only 3 or 4 pieces of information in working memory at one time. By designing to this limitation, you won’t overload the user with visual information and the product will be easy to navigate from a cognitive standpoint, which in turn will make it seem intuitive.
There are times when visual complexity can’t be reduced. When that is the case, the designer can still organize the information in such a way that the user can focus on manageable pieces without being overwhelmed and confused by the complexity of the whole. Two such techniques are grouping and framing. The figure below uses frames to divide the information into four sets. This allows the user to focus on one set at a time and then choose among the four objects in the subset. Thus, the information is presented in a progressive way:
Contrast the framed information to the unframed: