How Cognitive Design Helps You Reach Your Audience

Sep 19, 2018 Uncategorized


Looking at the two screens above, which one best visualizes the main information?

It’s obvious, isn’t it?

However, every day we keep bumping into slides and other visual supports that confuse more than explain.

Cognitive design applies to the visual language elements that accelerate understanding and persuasion through association, memory, reasoning, imagination and perception.  Only that which effectively supports understanding appears on the screen.

The most common practices nowadays, in the Brazilian scenario of presentations, do not follow this concept.

On the one hand, there is a tendency to minimize the importance of the visual aspect. It’s an adaptation of some existing document: the table that was part of a report is likewise used for a slide in a presentation or for a distance learning video, for example. We assume that the message will be understood by the context.  In general, it’s not.

When the message is not tailored to the medium, there is more noise than information. This so-called visual pollution distracts and causes estrangement and rejection. The brain withdraws instead of approaching. It does not promote empathy or persuasion. Nor does it build memory.


Another common practice attempts to counteract what we just mentioned. To make it friendlier, to make the visual aspect “prettier”. The slide is given a decorative nature, as in the example above. The image does not add much, without the context, right? And, at the same time, it is so interesting that it draws attention away from what is being said.  A simple way to recognize whether this has occurred is when you remember the image, but can’t associate it with the related content.

Cognitive design, which is closer to instructional design, delves into the symbolic universe of each behavioral profile in the audience and is intrinsically used to support the thought through visual representations.  

The visual result is leaner, simpler, lighter and more communicative.

By Katia