Effects of cognitive design principles on user’s performance and preference
A large scale evaluation of a soccer stats display
We present an analytic and a large scale experimental comparison of two informationally equivalent information displays of soccer statistics. Both displays were presented by the BBC during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The displays mainly differ in terms of the number and types of cognitively natural mappings between visual variables and meaning. Theoretically, such natural form-meaning mappings help users to interpret the information quickly and easily. However, our analysis indicates that the design which contains most of these mappings is inevitably inconsistent in how forms and meanings are mapped to each other. The experiment shows that this inconsistency was detrimental for how fast people can find information in the display and for which display people prefer to use. Our findings shed new light on the well-established cognitive design principle of natural mapping: while in theory, information designs may benefit from natural mapping, in practice its applicability may be limited. Information designs that contain a high number of form-meaning mappings, for example, for aesthetic reasons, risk being inconsistent and too complex for users, leading them to find information less quickly and less easily.