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Chapter 4. The Web User, Part 1: The Aud... > Cognitive Processing Capabilities an...

Cognitive Processing Capabilities and Limits

The Internet clearly has emerged as the predominant tool of the information culture. In this culture, information is a commodity, and efficiency in storing, organizing, transmitting, and managing information is required for acceptable productivity levels and competitive advantage. In all sectors of this information culture, whether in business, education, leisure, or government, the Internet is becoming a central information-processing tool. Consequently, we should view the Internet and Web user primarily as an information processor. The usability effectiveness of designs depends in great part on their compatibility with the user's information-processing capabilities and limitations (Allen, 1982; Badre, 1980). As designers, we must take into account the users' cognitive and perceptual limits and how people are likely to process information in an interactive environment.

Although there is great diversity in individual intelligence, education, and experience, there are some basic universal human information-processing characteristics, which were discussed in Chapter 3. These characteristics, both capabilities and limits, affect the way people store, remember, and manipulate information, which in turn have implications for Web design.


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