Chunking refers to grouping of like information in the hope that a better retention rate can be achieved (Mayzner, 1963; Miller, 1956; Thornton & Conway, 2013). Miller (1963) first posited the term ‘chunk’ in reference to our ability to compile bits of information like letters into syllables and syllables into words as a way of better retaining information. In the case of design and visual communication, chunking is primarily associated with the cognitive load of a task. If a design contains similar information that needs to be interpreted, compiling this information in a like way can help the user better comprehend the message that needs to be understood. Chunking helps to decrease the cognitive load associated with visual communication. Harking back to production load, a reduction in cognitive load can assist in the ease of successfully communicating through visual design. This is at the core of all good design, making it as easy as possible for the end user to understand and utilise whatever may be the purpose of said design. Chunking is one way of increasing the efficiency of a design and is backed up by scientific research.
Mayzner, M. (1963). Information “Chunking” and short-Term retention. The Journal of Psychology, 56(1), 161-164. doi:10.1080/00223980.1963.9923710
Miller, G. A. (1956). The magical number seven plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, 63(2), 81-97.
Thornton, M. A. & Conway, A. R. A. (2013). Working memory for social information: Chunking or domain-specific buffer? Neuroimage, 70, 233-9. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.12.063