Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior, Indi Young
Indi Young

Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior

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There is no single methodology for creating the perfect product—but you can increase your odds. One of the best ways is to understand users' reasons for doing things. Mental Models gives you the tools to help you grasp, and design for, those reasons. Adaptive Path co-founder Indi Young has written a roll-up-your-sleeves book for designers, managers, and anyone else interested in making design strategic, and successful.
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Because you will want to tailor your end solutions to fit each audience exactly, grouping audiences by differences in behavior is important. You want to end up with solutions that match behaviors and philosophies closely rather than with one solution that fits several audiences loosely. Figure out what people want to accomplish, look for differences, and group accordingly. See Task-Based Audience Segments
Over time you see the same behaviors and you group them together. You line them up in towers; then line up the towers into groups that represent different cognitive spaces. The diagram looks a lot like a city skyline. Once you have created the top half of the diagram, you focus on the lower half. Take the product features that you intend to create and align them beneath all the towers they support. In other words, you align the features that your business values beneath concepts that people mentioned. When you have finished, you will see areas of the mental model that are less supported than others, and you may have leftover functions that don’t support anything in the mental model.
Talking to users in a structured way, analyzing in a collaborative way, and diagramming with clarity can transform the way you approach the Web.
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