Cognitive Load in eCommerce Applications—Measurement and Effects on User Satisfaction
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Advances in Human-Computer Interaction (2009)

Guidelines for designing usable interfaces recommend reducing short term memory load. Cognitive load, that is, working memory demands during problem solving, reasoning, or thinking, may affect users' general satisfaction and performance when completing complex tasks. Whereas in design guidelines numerous ways of reducing cognitive load in interactive systems are described, not many attempts have been made to measure cognitive load in Web applications, and few techniques exist. In this study participants' cognitive load was measured while they were engaged in searching for several products in four different online book stores. NASA-TLX and dual-task methodology were used to measure subjective and objective mental workload. The dual-task methodology involved searching for books as the primary task and a visual monitoring task as the secondary task. NASA-TLX scores differed significantly among the shops. Secondary task reaction times showed no significant differences between the four shops. Strong correlations between NASA-TLX, primary task completion time, and general satisfaction suggest that NASA-TLX can be used as a valuable additional measure of efficiency. Furthermore, strong correlations were found between browse/search preference and NASA-TLX as well as between search/browse preference and user satisfaction. Thus we suggest browse/search preference as a promising heuristic assessment method of cognitive load.
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