learning portfolio 4 – activity





The Conversation is a news and opinion site that was founded in a partnership between the CSIRO and several high-profile universities.  It offers news and opinion pieces which are well-referenced and can be cited.  It is reputable enough to be cited by ABC news, which vouches for the quality of content. Having read it for some time the articles are always written to a high standard, and although opinion is offered it is always backed up with supporting research.

conversation founding partners




IMDB – The Internet Movie Database – is a website that I have been visiting for many years, and it has always provided accurate information.  It lists extensive information about movies and tv shows and the production crew and actors involved.





Getup! is a non-profit petition website wherein different organizations and charities can host petitions and donation drives. I have not used it personally but have seen various friends on Facebook sharing different petitions for many years, so I presume it is credible.




daily life.png

Daily Life is a website I have never really used, but I am aware of because I follow the work of some of the contributors on Facebook who cross-post their articles. On the surface it looks life a well-designed, professionally run news and opinion website. It follows the standard pattern of a typical news site, and is easily skimmed and navigated.


learning portfolio 3 – activity

Design examples



Credit cards are a good example of applying the performance load principle in design.  The front of the card only displays the most relevant information.  Usually that entails the bank name, followed by the credit card number and expiry date, and the card holder’s name.  Less relevant information like the security code, signature and bank details are relegated to the back of the card.  If all of that information was on the front of the card it would be overwhelming, but designers chose to group the most important information on the front, with the secondary information on the back.



Another example is a vitamin bottle.  Often vitamin bottles follow a very similar design, which is one that reduces performance load. The front prioritizes the brand information, which vitamin it is, and usually a small blurb about the function of that vitamin, with the tablet number somewhere to the side.  On the back there is more detailed information, barcodes and so forth. In this example the primary information is “chunked” by colour and font – ‘Nature’s Own’ is in a different font and colour than “Calcium, Magnesium & Vitamin D3”.  The “200 tablets per bottle” is to the side in another colour again. Overall the design allows potential consumers to easily categorize and then retain the information without being overwhelmed.



The typical design for a takeaway restaurant menu is also crafted to reduce performance load.  This menu has a front cover which shows all the most important information: the restaurant logo, name, phone number, opening hours and address, organized hierarchically through relevance, with bolded font and font size. The back shows pictures of the most popular dishes.  All of the most easily digested and relevant information is available on the front and the back of the pamphlet. Inside the pamphlet is where the entire menu is listed categorically by type of dish.  Most menus follow these same design choices, and the prioritizing of information, with contact details “chunked” makes it easy for customers to browse the menu more quickly.

inside smaller.jpg

learning portfolio 3 – Q3


Psychological research is necessary to good design because we process design mentally.  Psychologists study learning and cognition processes, and designers can use that research in conjunction with design principles, to craft the most effective design.  In Cognitive Load Theory, Sweller asserts that “Different categories of knowledge may be acquired, organised and stored in different ways and require different instructional procedures. Understanding how we deal with different categories of knowledge is a requirement in determining which aspects of human cognition are important from an instructional design perspective” (Sweller et al., 2011, p. 3). That is, if designers understand how people learn, they can choose the optimal design method to communicate information, so that consumers will learn effectively.




Sweller, J., Ayres, P. L., Kalyuga, S., & Ebook, L. (2011). Cognitive load theory (Vol. 1). New York: Springer.

learning portfolio 3 – Q2

Q2. “Chunking” information

‘Chunking’ refers to the teaching method of chunking important or relevant information together in order to reduce cognitive load.  This is a mnemonic learning technique where designers group “content in a way that makes it easier to recall” (Dawson, 2011, p. 181).  The theory is based on research showing that users are better able to retain bite sized chunks of information rather than a swathe of data, which can be overwhelming and difficult to remember.  Research indicates that total cognitive load should not exceed working memory resources, because if too much information is presented at one time, learning may become difficult or impossible (Sweller, Ayres, Kalyuga, & Ebook, 2011, p. 64).  An example of this is that “we often learn and recall long sequences in smaller segments, such as a phone number 858 534 22 30 memorized as four segments” (Fonollosa, Neftci, & Rabinovich, 2015, p. 1).  Another example is the use of dot points in PowerPoints, or when taking notes.  The grouping and then subgrouping of information makes it easier for the brain to first retain and then classify information.

In relation to employing the ‘chunking’ technique in design, designers should present information they wish to communicate as simply and concisely as possible, grouping it into easily retained ‘chunks’ for effective learning.  This reduces cognitive load for the user, and allows them to focus and learn more easily.  The user should be able to easily identify important information, and then link that information together as they go.  Chunking makes information more easily retainable.





Dawson, A. (2011). Distinctive Design: A Practical Guide to a Findable, Useful, Beautiful Web: Wiley.

Fonollosa, J., Neftci, E., & Rabinovich, M. (2015). Learning of Chunking Sequences in Cognition and Behavior. PLoS Computational Biology, 11(11) doi:


Sweller, J., Ayres, P. L., Kalyuga, S., & Ebook, L. (2011). Cognitive load theory (Vol. 1). New York: Springer.

learning portfolio 3 – Q1


Performance load refers to how much mental and physical effort is required to achieve a task.  More difficult tasks have a higher rate of errors, and take longer to complete, with the chance of success decreasing with the level of difficulty and vice versa.  There are two types of performance load: cognitive load and kinematic load.

Cognitive load is how much mental activity is required to complete a task, via perception, memory and problem-solving.   Cognitive load can be reduced by ‘chunking’ information, using memory aids, and automating task.  For example, in the classroom, “a well-run, interesting lesson based on explicit instruction is almost invariably going to result in better learner outcomes than a chaotic, poorly designed inquiry-based lesson” (Sweller, Ayres, Kalyuga, & Ebook, 2011, p. 229). Or in web design, “users can be fatigued by overly complex, annoying sites” (Dawson, 2011, p. 170).

Kinematic load “represents the amount of physical activity required … to complete a job” (Concepts, 2016). Morse code is an example of simplifying the physical demands of a task.

Designers should “apply sound instructional design principles based on our knowledge of the brain and memory” (Learning-Theories, 2016), and eliminate unnecessary information, chunk important information, provide memory aids and reduce steps in order to reduce performance load.




Concepts, D. O. (2016). Designing Your Office to Reduce Your Work Load Through Cognitive Science. 90 Degree Office Concepts.  Retrieved from http://90degreeofficeconcepts.com/component/k2/item/102-designing-your-office-to-reduce-your-work-load-through-cognitive-science

Dawson, A. (2011). Distinctive Design: A Practical Guide to a Findable, Useful, Beautiful Web: Wiley.

Learning-Theories. (2016). Cognitive Load Theory of Multimedia Learning (Sweller). Learning-Theories.com knowledge base and webliography.  Retrieved from http://www.learning-theories.com/cognitive-load-theory-of-multimedia-learning-sweller.html

Sweller, J., Ayres, P. L., Kalyuga, S., & Ebook, L. (2011). Cognitive load theory (Vol. 1). New York: Springer.

learning portfolio 2 – Q2

Q2. Consistency design examples

The English Tea Shop brand of teas provide a good example of design that is consistent both internally and externally.  Each tea has consistent design within it internally, but there are also enough similar elements used in each of the different varieties that the branding is still easily recognizable externally across varieties. They are easily identified as components of a whole, and this is consistency which “incorporates the visual flexibility to create identifiable regions and edges within the larger space” (Lynch & Horton, 2009, p. 98).  That is, the tea types are not exactly the same but are still recognizable and linked by certain consistent design choices.

tea smaller

Coca-Cola has consistent branding across their products. Lynch and Horton note, “there is a paradox at the heart of consistency: if everything looks the same, there are no edges. How can you tell where you are or when you have moved from one space to another?” (Lynch & Horton, 2009, p. 98).  The answer is keeping a consistent design profile whilst tailoring small details to indicate difference.  For coke cans and bottles, each design is essentially the same, with colour indicating whether it is regular, diet or zero, and a font change for the ‘diet’ or ‘zero’ part.  The difference in products is instantly recognized by consumers, but always as a difference of product types within one brand.



Another example is public signage. Signs need to be simply and easily, if not instantly understood, especially if there is potential danger, or they are road signs which will be read whilst driving past.  The red circle and crossed line are universally and consistently used to indicate that something is forbidden.  This means that the learning curve for what a sign means is very small. This consistency of design allows for very effective usability and learnability.


learning portfolio 2 – Q1

Q1. Consistency

Consistency is a “cornerstone of good design” (DiMarco, 2011, p. 51).  Lidwell, Holden and Butler contend that consistency in design makes systems easier to learn and use, with consistent repetition of stylistic elements allowing users to “efficiently transfer knowledge to new contexts, learn new things quickly, and focus attention on the relevant aspects of a task”  (Lidwell, 2003, p. 46).  They go on to explain the four types of design consistency, aesthetic, functional, internal and external.

Aesthetic consistency refers to repetitive visual signifiers of a concept.  One example of aesthetic consistency is  corporate branding, where “Companies use the same color, fonts, and icons throughout their marketing materials (brochures, packaging, signage, etc.) to create a consistent experience for the customer through recognition and association” (DiMarco, 2011, p. 51).

Functional consistency helps to improve usability and learnability. For example, in web design “Users are not impressed with complexity that seems gratuitous, especially those users who may be depending on the site for timely and accurate information.” (Lynch & Horton, 2009, p. 106).  Thus in many cases functionality is achieved through the ‘shortcut’ of consistent design choices.

Internal consistency is the logical grouping and repetition of elements within a system. When creating a website, “For example, users will associate a particular color on your website as the “link color,” they’ll come to recognize the typeface of your body copy, etc. Therefore, being consistent in these areas will not only contribute to a great-looking design, but it’ll also provide a more familiar experience for users.” (T. Smith, 2010)

External consistency is extending internal consistency across different systems or components. For example, “If designing a number of items for the one event or business, they should all share a common look … you should share design elements between each” (M. Smith, 2014)

Consistency should be considered in all aspects of design, in order to create recognizable identities for the brand or system, and to make the user experience of a system simpler and easier to learn.



DiMarco, J. (2011). Digital Design for Print and Web : An Introduction to Theory, Principles, and Techniques. Hoboken: Wiley.  Retrieved from http://ECU.eblib.com.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=537330

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Universal Principles of Design.

Lynch, P. J., & Horton, S. (2009). Web Style Guide. New Haven, US: Yale University Press.

Smith, M. (2014). The Principles of Graphic Design: How to Use Repetition Effectively. Edgee.  Retrieved from http://www.edgee.net/the-principles-of-graphic-design-how-to-use-repetition-effectively/

Smith, T. (2010). Consistency: Key to a Better User Experience. UX  Booth.  Retrieved from http://www.uxbooth.com/articles/consistency-key-to-a-better-user-experience/

learning portfolio 1 – Q2

Q2. Examples of the Aesthetic-Usability Principle

Tefal Electric Grater

This Tefal Electric Grater is a great example of the aesthetic-usability principle.  The main shape of the grater is a curved, energetic and visually pleasing design reminiscent of the current trend for brightly coloured, “vintage” European-style kitchen appliances, although it is constructed in plastic (likely to keep it in a modest price range). These are both deliberate design choices, as the curved shape is appealing to look at, whilst the use of plastic suggests practicality and sturdiness for everyday use.

grater resized

The colour scheme is clean and fresh, with the main device in red and white. The individual grater pieces are colour coded, with red and orange for grating, green for slicing, and yellow for cheese grating. The colour coding of the graters is explained in an infographic on the side of the appliance.  The simple infographic suggests that that is all the consumer needs to know about using the appliance – its operation is that simple.

Before use the design of the grater suggests ease of use and simplicity. In actuality the grater requires quite a bit of brute strength to use, and whilst it may be faster than a manual grater it is not physically easier. The product would be completely unsuitable for older or physically disabled people. But the design suggests otherwise, coming across on first look as compact and easy to use.

grater smaller up close


English Tea Shop Teas

These English Tea Shop teas are designed to be viewed as a luxury treat that will add a certain joie-de-vivre, as well as health benefits to the consumer’s day. They are priced more highly than mid-range brands like Twinnings, and use only organic ingredients, and the price mark is reflected in the level of branding design.  The branding is cheerful, pretty and feminine, in order to appeal to health-conscious women.  Each tea type has its own design theme that is individual but in keeping with the brand’s style.

tea resized

The blends “Happy Me” and “Energise Me” both show figures of people jumping and posing energetically, suggesting that drinking the tea is healthy and will bring vitality to the drinker.  Meanwhile the “Japanese Green Sencha” and “Apple Rosehip Raspberry Ripple” tea show a tea pot bursting with tea leaves, fruit and flowers.  All of the teas have floral/leaf designs and the “organic” feature is heavily emphasized and repeated.  I believe the design achieves the aesthetic-usability principle in that they strongly advertise that the English Tea Shop teas are a) high in quality, and b) going to produce an uplifting effect on consumption.

Coke Zero Can

coke zero smaller.jpg

The red and white coca-cola logo is ubiquitious, and carries with it a certain respectability and promise of ‘quality’.  Coke remains enormously popular, despite how unhealthy it is, and rather than quality it is in fact very cheap to manufacture.  I think a great deal of its continued popularity is due to great design.  The logo, now iconic, is very aesthetically pleasing, and attracts consumers.

The Coke Zero formula is marketed at young men (http://www.cokesolutions.com/OurProducts/Pages/Site%20Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?ItemID=308&L2=Soft%20Drinks&ItemTitle=Coca-Cola+Zero%E2%84%A2), and to reflect this they have chosen bold, strong black as the background colour.  Even though it is a diet drink, in order to appeal to its target audience it has to suggest a certain heartiness or substantial quality to the drink, which is why they have chosen the black.  I believe they have chosen to do this as men are less likely to be interested in drinking or eating diet products unless they taste good (compared to women), and I think also less likely to admit being worried about their calorie intake enough to choose a diet option.  So the black background and bold choice of colours somewhat masculinizes the drink, and that is a very deliberate design choice.  I think that Coca Cola have been very successful in their design choices for the Zero brand, and the design is a great example of the aesthetic-usability effect.  The packaging suggests a bold, full flavoured drink, which attracts consumers male and female.

learning portfolio part 1 – Q1

Q1. Aesthetics and Usability

In Universal Principles of Design, Lidwell, Holden and Butler introduce research indicating that people perceive “more aesthetic designs as easier to use than less-aesthetic designs – whether they are or not” (2003, p. 18).  This aesthetic-usability effect, as it is commonly known, is tied into the emotion of design.  People form emotional associations with designs, and a visually pleasing design is more likely to attract a positive emotional response.  The reason why more aesthetic designs may be perceived as more usable is speculated to be tied to the ‘halo effect’, that is, the idea that people’s opinions of a person or object can be influenced by them noticing a positive, prominent characteristic of the person or object (van Gorp & Adams, 2012, p. 404).  This is supported by social psychology research that shows attractive people are perceived to have good qualities.  In design, this leads to people inferring that visually-pleasing designs must work better.  Further, this preconception that  the visually appealing product is easier to use sets the stage for a more positive working relationship between the user and product, making “difficult tasks easier to perform” and encouraging users to be “more tolerant of minor difficulties and more flexible” (Masmoudi, Yun Dai, & Naceur, 2012, p. 188).  For example, in a study researching user interaction with technology, psychologists found that “while effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction are definitely important determinants of human–technology interaction, other aspects, such as the aesthetics of system design and emotional experiences during system usage, certainly impact on the perceived quality of use as well” (Thüring & Mahlke, 2007, p. 254).  It is argued that many successful products are embraced because they manage to “satisfy the emotional needs that were most important for their context of use” (Sonderegger & Sauer, 2010, p. 18).  Therefore there is a strong basis for designing aesthetically pleasing products. They are more likely to be perceived as usable, and more easily forgiven when they are not.


Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Universal Principles of Design.

Masmoudi, S., Yun Dai, D., & Naceur, A. (2012). Attention, Representation, and Human Performance : Integration of Cognition, Emotion, and Motivation. London: Taylor and Francis.  Retrieved from http://ECU.eblib.com.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=957267

Sonderegger, A., & Sauer, J. (2010). The influence of design aesthetics in usability testing: Effects on user performance and perceived usability. Applied Ergonomics, 41(3), 403-410.  doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2009.09.002

Thüring, M., & Mahlke, S. (2007). Usability, aesthetics and emotions in human-technology interaction. International Journal of Psychology, 42(4), 253-264.  doi: 10.1080/00207590701396674

van Gorp, T., & Adams, E. (2012). Chapter 1 – Why Design for Emotion? Design for Emotion (pp. 1-18). Boston: Morgan Kaufmann. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-386531-1.00001-6