One of the big principles that researchers are looking at in the technology world involves how people perceive things, how they receive images to the brain and how they process different kinds of information. Groundbreaking research is showing us much more about how the human brain works, and that’s playing out in many different fields.
Print Versus Digital Reading
One important aspect of layout and design for the web is based on differences in how people read and take in electronic pages versus print pages.
This article in Scientific American goes into detail about how reading is different online and on paper. There is the issue of how to take in information, where lots of people prefer the printed page, but there’s also the issue of composition — how to more effectively reach readers on the web and offer them accessible information. For example, the article shows how on-screen reading is “more mentally and physically taxing” but it doesn’t say much about how to alleviate some of this burden with white space, good text and image layout, etc. That’s what experienced designers have learned on their own, over time.
Sophisticated Scientific Models
At the vanguard of this kind of science, some pioneers have gone beyond simple evaluation and started to explore models like ‘hierarchical temporal memory’ or HTM that actually show how our neocortex works. These are becoming a critical part of artificial intelligence models, and they’re also helping the rest of us to understand just why it is that we might respond to different cues on different web sites and pages in a similar way.
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