Summary: The impact of recognition vs recall is demonstrated when showing website visitors things they recognize vastly improves their perception of usability. If you ask visitors to recall items from memory it is much more difficult and their perception of usability goes down.
Recognition memory is way easier than recall memory. Recognition is acquired through exposure, recall memory is acquired through learning.
- If you ask your website visitors to learn a complex and confusing menu/navigational system, guess what? They won’t bother, they’ll just leave.
Using Recognition On Your Website
Your navigational menu system is the most obvious example of a recognition-based website: Your menu shows the available choices, and the visitor recognize the one they want. The more complex and cryptic your menu system, the more you ask your visitor to tap into recall, which increases friction.
How To Implement Recognition On Your Website
Easiest way is to reduce navigational complexity and make information obvious and easily accessible.
Your website has two components:
- Your navigation: menus, links, and buttons that help visitors find what they’re looking for. Read my article on Navigation for some useful insights.
- Your content: the information visitors are looking for. Read my article on Content Chunking.
Promote recognition and minimize the need to recall information from memory whenever possible. Use easy and obvious menus with visual cues to help website visitors make decisions quickly.