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Efficient & Effective Design: Conserving Cognitive Energy

taught by: Glenda Sims

Session Summary

What if I told you that I could make you fall in love with Cognitive Accessibility? I don’t ever want you to compromise on good design. Let me show you how the principles of Cognitive Design can elevate your UI to a delightful user experience for all. Learn about key cognitive challenges and how they exist in our daily lives. Explore actionable design principles that will reduce mental friction for all of your users.


Designing digital experiences for people with cognitive disabilities should lead to a better design for all.

Functional Impact of Cognitive Disabilities

Simplify how you think about cognitive disabilities by focusing on the functional impacts. We don’t need to get into the medical details of what is causing a cognitive disability. Instead, we will focus on the impact of the cognitive disability on a person’s ability to: Perceive, Operate and Understand a digital interface.

Types of cognitive challenges include:

  • Attention - ADD, ADHD…
  • Memory - aphasia, short-term memory loss…
  • Visual comprehension - dyslexia, dyscalculia…
  • Intellectual functioning - process information, problem-solving, make decisions…

Negative Physical Factors

But, let’s not limit our thinking to cognitive disabilities. Because, let’s face it, our ability to think can easily be reduced by negative physical factors. We all have a limited amount of energy to spend on mental activities. So, when we experience any one of these physical problems we have less energy available to think clearly.

  • Not enough sleep
  • Very hungry (hangry)
  • Very thirsty (dehydrated)
  • Too much or too little caffeine
  • Tipsy/drunk
  • Dizzy
  • Headache or Sick
  • Way too hot or way too cold

Presentation Materials