Thursday, January 24, 2019


Keep it simple, stupid, or KISS, can be a vastly underestimated concept for those not yet familiar with basic design principles.

Maybe you've encountered a professor with information-dense slide decks, or maybe you know someone who sprinkles extraneous adverbs or unnecessarily complex vocabulary words when they speak. Or there's that tactical (not really) approach of disguising a fundamental lack of understanding with details upon details. So what does KISS look like?

I think one of the most important considerations to make when designing a product in compliance with KISS is cognitive load, which is better informally known as working memory. Products designed with complexity for complexity's sake only acts as a distraction, robbing valuable mental capacity that is a learner's limited working memory.

Granted, there are those who possess a larger working memory compared to others, but that's why we must consider our audience. My high school chemistry teacher once said, "There are two teaching styles: one, to only address a limited set of general topics to accommodate a majority of learners, or two, to pursue a quick and comprehensive pace that maximizes the learning potential of the most capable."

I feel that the topic is a perennial debate, but today, we have the privilege of video, which is a more audience-agnostic educational format. I want to share an example that I think demonstrates KISS well: the YouTube channel Chubbyemu.

The narrator is an actual MD that presents real-life case studies. His video titles, presentation style, and storytelling are clear, concise, and straightforward. There are no special video or audio effects, and the frilliest props he uses are the multi-colored desk lamps he uses as a backdrop. Furthermore, he maximizes information accessibility by aligning his many, many (endearingly home-brewed) B-rolls with his lecture content. In other words, this means your ears and your eyes work together to absorb the same learning material.

Chubbyemu is a fantastic learning resource for learning pathophysiology, and I'm sure that any visual communications specialist can extol the amateur filmmaker-narrator Bernard for his lucid approach.

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