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Miller's Magic 7 (was: Re: Tables and the Summary attribute)

From: Christophe Strobbe <christophe.strobbe@esat.kuleuven.be>
Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2005 11:52:13 +0200
Message-Id: <6.0.0.22.2.20050929114329.030f8248@mailserv.esat.kuleuven.be>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

At 03:19 29/09/2005, Orion Adrian wrote:

> > >> summary:
> > >> There are 5 columns. Columns 1 and 2 show forcasted results for 2006.
> > Column 1 is the original budget. Column 2 is the estimated actual
> > results.
> > >
> > > This far exceeds the approximately 7 things that people can track in
> > short term memory and is pretty much useless as a result.
> >
> > If you are a screenreader user, an accountant or have a degree in
> > cognitive psychology then I will take this comment seriously.
>
>Even if he's not a cognitive psychologist, he's stating a well-known
>fact among HCI people and cognitive psychologists and that is humans
>have the ability to retain 5-7 chunks of information in short-term
>memory. If a person adds something that would exceed their capacity,
>something gets dropped from short-term memory.

This refers to the article "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two:
Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information" by George Miller
(1956).
More recent research tends to show that this should not be blindly adapted
to web design. See for example (in random order):
- "Reducing reliance on superstition":
   http://www.humanfactors.com/downloads/sep00.asp
   (there are a few references at the bottom of the article);
- Kevin Larson and Mary Czerwinski:
   Web Page Design: Implications of Memory, Structure and Scent for 
Information Retrieval
   http://research.microsoft.com/users/marycz/chi981.htm
- Bryan Eisenberg: Debunking Miller's Magic 7
   http://www.clickz.com/experts/crm/traffic/article.php/3427631
- Nick Finck: Miller's Magic Seven:
   http://www.digital-web.com/news/2004/10/millers_magic_seven/
   (responds to previous article).

Regards,

Christophe Strobbe


-- 
Christophe Strobbe
K.U.Leuven - Departement of Electrical Engineering - Research Group on 
Document Architectures
Kasteelpark Arenberg 10 - 3001 Leuven-Heverlee - BELGIUM
tel: +32 16 32 85 51
http://www.docarch.be/ 


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Received on Thursday, 29 September 2005 09:53:33 GMT

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