Miller’s Law

Miller’s Law: Simplifying Information Processing in UX Design

Miller’s Law, derived from cognitive psychology, states that the average person can hold about seven (plus or minus two) items in their working memory at any given time. This principle has significant implications for UX design, emphasizing the need to simplify information and reduce cognitive load for users.

What is Miller’s Law?

Miller’s Law, introduced by psychologist George A. Miller in his 1956 paper “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two,” posits that the human mind is limited in its capacity to process information, typically being able to hold 5 to 9 items simultaneously in working memory. This concept highlights the constraints of short-term memory and the importance of managing cognitive load in information design.

Importance of Miller’s Law in UX Design

  1. Cognitive Load Management: By understanding the limitations of human memory, designers can structure information to reduce cognitive load, making it easier for users to process and retain information.
  2. Improved Usability: Simplifying interfaces and breaking information into manageable chunks enhances usability, ensuring users can navigate and understand content more effectively.
  3. Enhanced User Satisfaction: When users are not overwhelmed by excessive information, they experience less frustration and have a more positive interaction with the product.
  4. Effective Information Architecture: Applying Miller’s Law helps in creating effective information hierarchies and layouts that align with users’ cognitive capabilities.

Key Principles of Miller’s Law in UX Design

  1. Chunking: Break information into smaller, manageable chunks. Group related items together to help users process and remember information more easily.
  2. Prioritization: Prioritize information based on importance. Display the most critical information prominently while relegating less important details to secondary positions.
  3. Minimalism: Keep interfaces simple and clutter-free. Avoid overwhelming users with too many choices or excessive information.
  4. Clear Navigation: Design intuitive navigation that helps users find information without having to remember complex paths or numerous steps.
  5. Consistent Design Patterns: Use consistent design patterns and familiar elements to reduce the cognitive effort required to understand and interact with the interface.

Best Practices for Applying Miller’s Law in Design

  1. Use Bullet Points and Lists: Present information in bullet points or lists to facilitate scanning and retention. Keep lists short, ideally under seven items.
  2. Group Related Items: Group related content or features together. For example, group form fields logically (e.g., personal information, address details) to help users process sections individually.
  3. Progressive Disclosure: Show information progressively, revealing details as needed. This approach prevents overwhelming users with all the information at once.
  4. Simplify Forms: Design forms with only the necessary fields visible initially. Use expandable sections or multi-step forms to break down the process.
  5. Clear Call-to-Actions (CTAs): Limit the number of CTAs per screen to avoid decision paralysis. Focus on the most critical actions you want the user to take.

Tools for Implementing Miller’s Law

  1. Wireframing Tools: Use wireframing tools like Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD to plan and visualize how information will be chunked and organized.
  2. Usability Testing Platforms: Platforms like UserTesting and UsabilityHub can help gather user feedback on how well your design aligns with Miller’s Law principles.
  3. Analytics Tools: Tools like Google Analytics and Hotjar can provide insights into how users navigate and interact with your interface, helping identify areas where cognitive load may be too high.
  4. A/B Testing Tools: Use A/B testing to experiment with different layouts and information structures, measuring which versions are easier for users to understand and navigate.

Real-World Examples

  1. Apple’s iOS Settings: The iOS settings app groups related settings into sections and uses expandable menus, preventing information overload and making navigation easier.
  2. Amazon Product Pages: Amazon product pages use tabs and collapsible sections to group information (e.g., product details, reviews, specifications), helping users find what they need without being overwhelmed.
  3. Google Search Results: Google’s search results are presented in a simple, list format with relevant information grouped together, allowing users to quickly scan and find desired results.
  4. Dropbox Onboarding: Dropbox’s onboarding process breaks down tasks into small, manageable steps, guiding users through setup without overwhelming them.


Miller’s Law emphasizes the need to consider human cognitive limitations in design. By breaking information into manageable chunks, prioritizing essential content, and simplifying interfaces, designers can create user experiences that are easier to navigate and more enjoyable to use.

Ondrej Zoricak
Ondrej Zoricak