Psychology and UX: What’s with the human memory?

Georgia Pandria
Georgia Pandria
UX Expert
·1 min read
Psychology and UX: What’s with the human memory?

A deep understanding of human psychology, and in particular how memory works, is essential to UI/UX design. Memory has a significant impact on how users interact with digital interfaces, affecting their ability to navigate, comprehend, and retain information effectively. By understanding how people recognize and remember things, and how our brains deal with short-term information, designers can craft more intuitive and user-friendly interfaces.

Recognition VS Recall

Recognition versus recall is a key concept in UI/UX design. Recognition involves the identification of information when it's presented on repeat, like recognizing a familiar icon or interface element. For example, answering the question "Is Athens the capital of Greece?" involves recognition, because the question involves more cues for the answer. This method requires less cognitive effort and naturally enhances user-friendly interfaces.

Recall, on the other hand, requires information to be retrieved from memory without external cues, which is more challenging and increases the likelihood of error. For example, answering the question "What is the capital of Greece?" requires recall, because the question has less cues.

Designers can make the most of this understanding by including familiar patterns, icons, and navigation structures to facilitate recognition and make user interactions more efficient.

Short-term memory

Short-term memory, enforces limitations on how users can process and retain information in digital interfaces. Understanding its capacity and duration is crucial: did you know that people are able to hold only around 7 chunks of information in their short-term memory at one time?

Optimizing content presentation by breaking down information into digestible chunks, employing clear visual hierarchies, and providing feedback to reinforce users' mental models can minimize cognitive overload and enhance usability. Additionally, strategic use of visual cues can guide users' attention and boost information retention.


Considering insights from psychology, especially those related to human memory, into UI/UX design practices, can seriously boost how user-friendly and effective digital interfaces turn out to be. Prioritizing recognition over recall and implementing strategies that take into account the limitations of short-term memory, designers can create intuitive, user-centred experiences that resonate with their audiences. As technology advances, a deep understanding of human cognition remains a must in shaping the future of digital interaction design.

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