Mental Models by Indi Young

I read this book in a web browser, on an iPhone and on an iPad using Safari Books Online website and app.

According to this book "Mental models are simply affinity diagrams of behaviors made from ethnographic data gathered from audience representatives." This book does a great job describing how to create a detailed mental model.

As a front-end developer with a deep interest in usability I have talked a lot about customer mental models, but my understanding of what the term meant was very limited. Now as a UX designer it is more important for me to have a more in-depth understanding, including how to discover, document, and share what our customer’s mental models are for our industry.

I learned a lot of that from this book and hope to participate in a mental model exercise at some point in the future, but I do not necessarily want it to be a focus of my career. I like the idea of conducting the interviews to develop the model, but the analysis portion holds no interest for me.

Mental Models did cement my belief that establishing a clear mental model of your customer’s tasks can lead to better design, features, functionality, and focus to your products.

From the Mental Models book website:

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.

"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

I rate this book an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to any UX designer who needs to develop a mental model to inform the creation of a website or app.

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