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Cognitive Overhead is Your Product‚ Overlord‚ Topple it With These Tips  

First Round Review
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Co-founder of Bump and Product Lead at Google Photos David Lieb explains cognitive overhead, how it may be holding back your products, and how to fight it.

  • Cognitive overhead is the number of logical connections that your brain has to make to contextualize and understand what it sees.
  • Cognitive simplicity is how easy your product is to understand.

Cognitive Overhead Assumptions, Realities, and Recommendations

  1. Assumption: It is best to make choices for your users whenever possible.
    1. Reality: Involve users in decisions to increase their understanding and engagement.
    2. Recommendation: Map out if, when, and how you are going to automate a feature and analyze user action and corresponding reaction.
  2. Assumption: It is best to delight your users with first-of-its-kind features.
    1. Reality: Familiarity is the top driver of adoption.
    2. Recommendation: Examine how your users navigate your product using the young, the old, and the drunk as detectors of cognitive overhead.
  3. Assumption: Diverse features lead to a highly-engaged user base
    1. Reality: Build for consistency ­—not variety—to form habits.
    2. Recommendation: Choose your lane and stay in it to meet user expectations and retain attention.
  4. Assumption: Speed wins.
    1. Reality: Time instills trust and quality.
    2. Recommendation: Optimize for your user navigating more quickly—indicating comprehension and confidence—not your app.
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