Cognitive concepts for usable design

We all want to engage with technology intuitively. But what is intuitive to our users? What stimulates their action? A glimpse into the cognitive concepts that guide our users’ expectations will help us design more usable products.

Text by Kirk St.Amant


Image: © ersinkisacik/

Usability is about interaction. When we use items such as apps, we perform certain activities and expect responses to these actions. Our use of technology involves us interacting with them through systems of input and responses. Such interactions guide how we use everything from automobiles to mobile apps.

We use this process to interact with different objects every day, yet the complexity of these interactions often goes unnoticed. These situations arise from how the brain processes information, and these processes are central to successful usability and effective design. By understanding the cognitive factors underlying these dynamics, technical communicators can design materials to promote interactions and enhance usability.

Initiation and conclusion

How we use items is not random. Rather, we expect our actions to lead to particular responses. Moreover, we are often unaware of how ...