The concept of “path of least resistance” is a principle borrowed from physics that can be applied to industrial and visual design. This principle captures the observation that the easiest method to complete a task is the method most likely to be used. It also underlies the concept of shortcuts. How many of us prefer to use the hard way to reach a goal when an easy way is readily available?
In this chapter, we go over the third aspect of Guided Analytics, that is, the techniques we use to guide the user through the analytic train of thought. We want to minimize the mental effort the user spends trying to process the visual information and maximize the opportunity for the user to comprehend the key insights. We introduce concepts from a wide range of fields, including psychology, industrial engineering, object-oriented design, and linguistics, that will aid us in developing dashboards that drive insights and action rather than ones that make the user work to understand the information.
Key principles we cover include:
Performance load in our context is a concept introduced by Lidwell, Holden, and Butler in Universal Principles of Design to capture the idea that “the greater the effort to accomplish a task, the less likely the task will be accomplished successfully.” The authors describe performance load as comprised of cognitive and kinematic load.