Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior

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.

What’s a mental model?
Those in the field of cognitive research have been describing and defining mental models for a few decades. The term “mental model” has come to mean “a mental representation.” The mental models described in this book are representations of people’s behavior, philosophies, and emotion around how they accomplish something, regardless of which tools they use. The bottom half of each diagram shows features of your product aligned with the approaches people follow. The result is a diagram that will help you:

  • Better understand the user experience before making design and strategic decisions.
  • Provide your organization with a clear roadmap of where it should invest its energies—and where it shouldn’t.
  • Be confident about your design decisions by grounding them in research data.
  • Make your limited budget and time go further.
  • Derive an information architecture from users’ tasks that will last 10 years.
  • Get everyone—from discordant team members to busy executives—on the same page with respect to design and strategy.

Why buy this book?
Mental Models will help you:

  • Quickly get up and running; you’ll be creating mental models right away.
  • Learn how mental models have helped organizations from a variety of industries improve their web sites and applications.
  • Understand the pros and cons of mental models, and how they fit with other user experience design methods.
  • Avoid the frustrating mistakes that often get in the way while developing mental models.
  • Find out where to learn more about mental models.

“Indi Young’s mental models are the perfect way for your team to integrate your user’s perspective into your design. Indi has written a comprehensive guide for anyone who wants to make use of this power design technique. I’ll be giving this book out to all of our important clients and insisting they make it part of their process.”
—Jared Spool, CEO & Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering

“Developed over the course of more than ten years, Indi Young’s common sense approach focuses on user behavior, diagrammatic representations, and the participation of all stakeholders in collaborative discovery. It is a book that designers and students, alike, will find useful.”
—Richard Buchanan, Professor of Design, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University

“Indi Young’s new book is a welcome addition, covering an aspect of the design process that is extremely important but often neglected. The book is chock-full of practical advice derived from real-world development projects, but doesn’t lose sight of the broad conceptual underpinnings.”
—Ray Valdes, Research Director, Web Services, Gartner Inc.

“Indi Young gives great insight into the nuts and bolts of understanding, capturing and visualizing user needs. Her “how to” instructions provide clear guidance for teams wishing to undertake a serious effort to architect, design and develop products with the user in mind.”
—Sara L. Beckman, Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley

Book Details

  • Paperback: 299 pages
  • Publisher: Rosenfeld Media (February 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933820063
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933820064
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