Schneiderman’s Rule: Reduce short-term memory load

It is the limitation of human information processing in short-term memory requires that displays be kept simple, multiple page displays be consolidated, window-motion frequency be reduced, and sufficient training time be allotted for codes, mnemonics, and sequences of actions.



Humans’ limited capacity for information processing in short-term memory (the rule of thumb is that we can remember “seven plus or minus two chunks” of information) requires that designers avoid interfaces in which users must remember information from one screen and then use that information on another screen. It means that cell phones should not require re-entry of phone numbers, web-site locations should remain visible, multiple-page displays should be consolidated, and sufficient training time should be allotted for complex sequences of actions.

These underlying principles must be interpreted, refined, and extended for each environment. They have their limitations, but they provide a good starting point for mobile, desktop, and web designers. The principles presented in the ensuing sections focus on increasing users’ productivity by providing simplified data-entry procedures, comprehensible displays, and rapid informative feedback to increase feelings of competence, mastery, and control over the system.


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