Wolly mammoths, Web sites and 7 +/- 2
Web design professionals often work to George A Miller’s credo that humans can best manipulate “seven (plus or minus two)” items in their working memory. This 7 +/- 2 guideline isn’t a bad model to follow for keeping things simple on Web sites, where we all know that spewing your visitors with too much information will overwhelm them and could cause them to run away to the next site.
But in his latest column, Web usability expert Jacob Nielsen posits that 7 +/- 2 only goes so far as a guideline. In addition to reducing noise, it’s important to focus on making abstract concepts more concrete and accessible.
Nielsen’s article on Short-Term Memory and Web Usability is a short, interesting read.