Mental Models: Finding the Path to Design Success

A session at Interacción 2009

Monday 7th September, 2009

12:00pm to 1:20pm (WET)

Mental models are diagrams that represent the underlying philosophies and emotions that drive people’s behavior, matched up with the ways you support them with your offerings. Capturing the motivations behind how a person approaches a situation helps you understand that person better. For example, seeing a nurse check a patient’s fluids and rapidly flick through the tubing to find the right one is helpful, but knowing she is also looking for drug interactions or miscalculations, and has a checklist in her head gives you a better picture. Add to that the panic she felt two years ago when she found a problem with the fluids of a patient in ICU and her fear that she might be too late, and you get a deeper sense of her situation. If you can live in her world for a little while via reading the mental model, you will have a much better foundation for brainstorming and designing new ways to support her role. You could, for example, offer an earpiece connection to a “ride-along” nurse in a call center who has similar checklists and is not experiencing the emotions of being in the patient’s room. Mental models are useful as structures for generating and attaching these ideas to places where there are gaps in the way your organization does things now.
In this presentation, author Indi Young will discuss how to make sure mental models truly represents the root of what is driving your user’s natural behavior. Research often stops at the preference level, and designers make assumptions from there. Yet, there is so much more to find out about people. If you learn to listen and notice where you make assumptions about what people are saying or doing, you can learn to dig deeper. Using what Indi calls the hallway test, she will discuss how to stop yourself and ask what is really behind something.

About the speaker

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Indi Young

user experience researcher & speaker ... author @rosenfeldmedia ... founding partner @adaptivepath ... full of empathy and dark chocolate

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Interacción 2009

Spain Spain, Barcelona

7th9th September 2009

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Time 12:00pm1:20pm WET

Date Mon 7th September 2009

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Books by speaker

  • Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work
  • Mental Models

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