Chunking breaks information into small parts that can be called either units or “chunks”. They are supposed to facilitate the comprehension of a task since understanding a few unit concepts can be way easier than trying to follow a full string of thoughts. A good example of chunking is when we break our 10 digit phone numbers into 4 small parts containing 3 or 4 numbers in order to remember the units easily, that is to say that our memory works better when breaking a full string of thoughts into 5-9 chunks.
However, chunking is not a technique always needed. It should only be used when memorizing is needed; for example, a search engine doesn’t require chunking since the information does not need to be memorized – A common mistake is using chunking for improving simplicity which is wrong. The technique is supposed to be used when specific information must be memorized for later use (Harrod, 2008).
Some tips to improve your chunking technique could include:
– Organizing all the important information points.
– Spacing or placing content units
– Sort information by using Web Links (Barjwa, 2011).
“Chunking, when applied in its proper context, is a subtle but powerful design principle that can help improve the overall usefulness of systems. The primary goal of chunking is to help in situations where the commitment of information to working memory is required. Chunking helps in this process by breaking long strings of information into bit size chunks that are easier to remember, especially when the memory is faced with competing stimuli (Harrod, 2008).”
Barjwa, H. (2011). Content Chunking: Designing Precise, Engaging Web Pages, from http://www.ivoryshorewebsite.com/content-chunking-designing-precise-engaging-web-pages
Harrod, M. (2008). Chunking, from http://www.interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/chunking.html
Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Performance Load. In Universal Principles of Design (pp.
148‐149). Massachusetts: Rockport.
Towers, A. (2010). Cognitive Load, from http://usabilityfriction.com/2010/11/22/cognitive-load/