New research findings supporting longstanding Visual SenseMaking practices:
Recently published in Scientific American MIND: A Recipe for Motivation: Easy to Read, Easy to Do
“Psychologists are very interested in the complex interplay of effort, motivation and cognitive crunching—the ease with which we think about a task in our mind.”
Two psychologists at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor decided to investigate this idea [Mentally Palatable Instructions] in their lab. Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwarz wanted to see if they could motivate a group of 20-year-old college students to exercise regularly.
They gave all the students written instructions for a regular exercise routine, but they used a simple yet ingenious method to make the how-to instructions either cognitively palatable or challenging: some received instructions printed in Arial typeface, a plain font designed for easy reading; others got their instructions printed in a Brush font, which basically looks as if it has been written by hand with a Japanese paintbrush—it is unfamiliar and much harder to read.
There are many ways to make something mentally palatable—or not. You can use clear, straightforward language or arcane vocabulary words; simple sentences or convoluted sentences with lots of clauses.
The findings were remarkable. Those who had read the exercise instructions in an unadorned, accessible typeface were much more open to the prospect of exercising: they believed that the regimen would take less time and that it would feel more fluid and easy. Most important, they were more willing to make exercise part of their day.”
5 Humantific Tips for Creating CLEAR Instructions
1. Consider Information Overload
Keep in mind that reading your instructions is only one of many streams of information your audience is digesting today.
2. Consider Cognitive Priorities
If you make your instructions clear then your users can spend their not unlimited brainpower on more value creating innovation focused tasks.
3. Think Chunks
Break your instructions down into easily digestible chunks.
4. Think Visual
Recognize that not all humans navigate complexity via words alone. High quality visual models accompanying text can ease and accelerate cognition.
5. Think Systems
Try not to create instructions that have no visual relationship to anything else that the users are accustomed to. Think of your instructions as part of a system.
For more information regarding how Humantific UnderstandingLab services can help your organization contact programs (at) humantific (dot) com