This entry is part 39 of 43 in the series Words

User experience (“UX” to the cognoscenti) is a burgeoning field. Used to be we called this computer usability, user interface design or user interaction design. It was focused mostly on software such as word processors, spreadsheets, industrial control software, airplane cockpits, and medical applications. But, given how much money can be made on the web, […]



This entry is part 19 of 43 in the series Words

Faced with a long dinner menu, it’s hard to decide what to order. (Even with a medium-sized menu, my wife always says “You go ahead and order, I haven’t decided yet.” But that’s extreme.) It’s not just an urban legend. There are scientific studies that demonstrate it. The study When Choice is Demotivating by Sheena […]



This entry is part 14 of 43 in the series Words

No, I’m not talking about a system error message like Windows’ infamous “Abort, Retry, Fail?” I’m talking about active cognitive ignoring. This occurred to me as I’ve been using an electronic medical record system called DocuTAP. It has many very, very busy screens, each with a hundred or so items from which to choose. But […]


Cognitive Friction

This entry is part 12 of 43 in the series Words

The Whorf-Sapir hypothesis says that our language shapes how we think. It’s been moderately debunked in recent decades, but it’s likely true, at least in small part. And one of those small parts is when someone coins a new word that encapsulates a new idea. There has been a debate within philosophy since Plato’s time […]


Mental Models, Input Modes and Cognitive Friction

This entry is part 10 of 12 in the series Medical Computing

If the point of contact between the product and the people becomes a point of friction, then the Industrial Designer has failed. –Henry Dreyfuss, Designing for People, 1955 Mental Models In the first edition of About Face, one of the first design/usability texts (and a great read, much more personal, personable and readable than subsequent, […]