Why Chunking Content is Important

The word "chunk," usually means a piece of
something larger. But in UX design, when we talk about the process
of chunking, we're usually referring to breaking up content into small, distinct units of information,
rather than just an undifferentiated mess of atomic information items. So, why is chunking important for our users? Well, as human beings, we find it easier to
comprehend and remember information if it's been broken down into meaningful chunks. For example, if I asked you to remember this
string of numbers, do you think you could do it? You might find it to be easier to remember
this phone number if the string is chunked. Now instead of memorizing eleven numbers,
you just need to memorize four chunks. Often, when we break up our web content, we'll
do it in a similar way using negative space to show where the chunks are separated from
each other. You may have heard of the "magical number 7"
made famous by cognitive psychologist George Miller in the 1950s. Miller found that most people can remember
about seven 7 chunks of information in their short-term memory. In user experience, people often misunderstand
Miller's finding and they think that that means that people can only process seven things
at any given time. This can lead to some unnecessary design limitations:
for example, deciding that a global navigation bar can't have more than seven options. That would be totally unnecessary because
we don't intend for our users to memorize our menus, because all of the options are
available on the screen. Don't focus too much on the number 7 itself. For UX professionals, the real takeaway from Miller's
research is that human short-term memory is limited. So, if you want your users to retain more information,
pack that information into meaningful chunks.

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