Squirrel, Iceblock, Fuel, Blanket, Maid, Chicken, Thai… read it over a few times then close your eyes and try to recite it from memory. If you were able to, it’s tough and if you’re like me, you may have gotten three of them, maybe.

The average person can only keep 7 (plus or minus 2) items in their working memory.

We have a million things beeping at us, popping up on our screens, grabbing our attention left and right. It’s a miracle we can get through the day. What’s more, with everything grabbing for our attention, the last thing anyone needs is more work. That’s why when developing your app, grouping (or chunking) things together is paramount and extremely helpful for a user.

We do good to keep a few things held in our head for a brief few moments (unless you are a waiter/waitress at a restaurant where you can memorize several things at once, but after a server has finished with your table ask him/her to recite your order again, they can’t because already dumped it out of their brain and moved onto the next order). Putting things in groups help, and keeping those items very small (or brief) helps for users to remember things better, especially when the client has asked you to put a ton of information into your app.

Chunking, or clustering, is the function of grouping information together related by perceptual features. This is a form of semantic relation, such as types of fruit, parts of speech, or 1980s fashion. Chunking allows the brain to increase the channel capacity of the short term memory; however, each chunk must be meaningful to the individual. There are many other memory consolidation techniques. The peg memory system creates a mental peg from an association, such as a rhyme, letter, or shape. Another memory technique is the link system, where images are creating links, stories, or associations between elements in a list to be memorized. (Source)

So remember, be aware to group things together and don’t give a usere more than 7 things (preferably 5) so they don’t have to think. If you need further reading on this, read the book “Don’t Make Me Think”.