Designing for understanding: what you need to know about how people turn information into knowledge


A user looks at a screen, selects a control and touches it. Or a user reads some text on-line and searches for more detail. These basic interactions take place millions of times every day.

But what happens between the initial input and the user’s action? How do people process information and use it to learn or make decisions? Understanding the cognitive processes that take place will make you a more effective designer.

In this course, we will explore the cognitive foundations of knowledge. Topics will include attention, effort, context, sensation, perception, and cognition. Through brief exercises and experiments, you will explore factors that affect a person’s ability to extract meaning from information.

The focus of this course is practical. While the class is grounded in cognitive science, the goal is to identify and share techniques that apply to screen design, navigation and, of course, content.

Design Psychology Entry level