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Miller’s Law

What is Miller’s Law?

Miller's Law, also known as Miller's Magic Number, is a concept proposed by cognitive psychologist George A. Miller. It suggests that the average human working memory can hold around seven (plus or minus two) chunks of information at a time.

Key points about Miller's Law include:

Working Memory: Working memory refers to the cognitive system responsible for temporarily holding and manipulating information for immediate use.

Chunking: Miller's Law suggests that people can effectively handle information by grouping or "chunking" it into meaningful units. These chunks represent a higher-level abstraction that allows for more efficient processing and storage in working memory.

Capacity Limit: Miller's Magic Number of seven (plus or minus two) implies that the average person can comfortably process and retain around 5 to 9 chunks of information at a time. However, the capacity may vary depending on the complexity of the information and the individual's cognitive abilities.

Information Processing: Understanding Miller's Law helps in designing user interfaces and information presentation that align with the limitations of working memory. Breaking down complex information into smaller, manageable chunks can enhance comprehension and reduce cognitive load.

UX Design Implications: Designers can use Miller's Law to guide the organization and presentation of information, ensuring that it is divided into logical and meaningful chunks. This can involve breaking content into sections, using headings and subheadings, or utilizing visual cues like bullet points or numbered lists.

Why is Miller’s Law important?

By applying Miller's Law in UX design, designers can create interfaces that are more cognitively accessible, facilitate easier information processing, and enhance overall usability. Breaking down complex tasks or information into manageable chunks supports users in understanding, retaining, and effectively utilizing the presented content.

How to use Miller’s Law?

To apply Miller's Law in UX design:

Chunk Information: Break down complex content into smaller, manageable chunks that align with the average working memory capacity.

Organize and Structure: Use clear headings, subheadings, and visual cues to help users mentally group and organize information.

Prioritize Key Information: Highlight the most important or relevant information within each chunk to enhance comprehension and retention.

Limit Cognitive Load: Avoid overwhelming users with too much information at once. Present content in a progressive and easily digestible manner.

Provide Visual Cues: Utilize visual aids such as bullet points, numbered lists, or visual hierarchies to guide users' attention and aid in chunking.

Support Navigation and Exploration: Design intuitive navigation structures that allow users to access and explore information in manageable increments.

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About Akendi

Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.