Cognition, Usability, and Design: The Psychology of Design and Use


Kirk St.Amant
Louisiana Tech University and University of Limerick


September 5, 2018 - 2:00 PM


September 5, 2018 - 3:00 PM

Cognition, Usability, and Design: The Psychology of Design and Use

This session was also offered at the 2018 Summit in Orlando, Florida!

No item is inherently useful.  Rather, the usability of materials is dictated by the expectations and perceptions of the individuals who use them.  These factors are not random; they are shaped by cognition – how the mind stores, retrieves, and processes information.  By understanding these cognitive processes, technical communicators can create content, designs, and materials that better meet the usability expectations of an audience.

This webinar provides technical communicators with an introduction to cognitive processes affecting perceptions and expectations of usability.  In reviewing these concepts, the speaker will:

  • Discuss how to apply these ideas to identify a groups’ usability and design expectations.
  • Explain how to use research results to design materials to meet user expectations.

The objective of this webinar is to review how cognitive science theory can be combined with technical communication practices to create a framework for doing user research to create more usable content.

This webinar will provide attendees with the foundational understanding needed to

  • Recognize how certain cognitive factors affect expectations of usability.
  • Use this understanding of cognitive factors to identify user expectations.
  • Analyze existing designs to determine how well they meet user expectations.
  • Apply data from cognitive-based research to create usable designs for different audiences.

Attendees can use this knowledge to guide user testing and design activities relating to different audiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

When do education events take place?

Webinars are held every Wednesday afternoon from 2-3 PM EDT/EST (GMT-4/5).

A majority of online courses are held Tuesdays-Thursdays between 10:00 AM-1:00 PM EDT/EST (GMT-4/5), as to not conflict with webinar times.

When will I receive the GoTo Webinar instructions for an event?

Registered attendees will receive the GoTo Webinar instructions three (3) hours before the webinar begins, approximately at 11:00 AM EDT/EST.

Registered attendees will receive the GoTo Webinar instructions one (1) day before the online course begins.

To participate in a webinar and an online course, you must be able to access GoTo Webinar, STC's online meeting space.  GoTo Webinar is a standard web seminar tool (no separate download required) and all you need is a reliable Internet connection and phone line, or a computer with VoIP capabilities.

I registered for an online course, what are my next steps?

Once you register for an online course, you will receive a confirmation receipt that day. A majority of our online courses uses Moodle, STC's course management site, which attendees will receive the login instructions two (2) days before the course begins.

If you cannot access Adobe Connect and/or Moodle (as needed), then you will not be able to successfully complete an online course.

I registered for a webinar, but will be unable to attend. Will a recording be available?

If a registered attendee is unable to attend a webinar that day, they will receive an email with a link to the recording, and an evaluation link along with the PDF of the presentation.

I registered for a webinar and/or an online course, but cannot attend at that time. Will I receive a refund?

If a registered attendee is unable to attend a webinar and/or an online course, the cost is transferable to a future event, but is not refundable. Online registration closes one-two business days before the education event begins.

I want to take a specific course that isn't listed online. Will it be offered in the future?

STC rotates its courses every year as we try to offer the most popular ones within the first half of the year. Online courses are subject to change or are offered more than once per quarter. If a course is not listed, STC will offer it again in the following year.

Have an Education Question? Contact Us!


Career Center

Find your next job/contract opportunity here! Look at the STC Job Bank and get 14-day advance access to the newest employment opportunities.


Access to our industry-leading publications: Intercom, Technical Communication journal, STC’s Notebook blog, newsletters, and the Body of Knowledge (TCBOK).


The educational opportunities that STC members gain access to offer a breadth of continuing education knowledge in a variety of formats including webinars, online courses, Summit sessions, and more.


Leverage the power of members from around the world. Build relationships, advance your career through STC’s global community of technical communicators.


Society for Technical Communication
Phone: +1 (703) 522-4114 | Fax: +1 (703) 522-2075
3251 Blenheim Boulevard | Suite 406 | Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Email: STC | Map it!


The Society for Technical Communication advances technical communication as the discipline of transforming complex information into usable content for products, processes, and services.