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Mental Models

Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior 

Published: February 2008 Digital: ISBN 1-933820-19-5

by Indi Young

Mental Models

Mental Models offers a practical set of techniques for task analysis in the early stage of design thinking and strategic design planning. 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

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.

“Mental Models” Blog

Recruiting Across Behaviors

I received an enthusiastic, but bewildered cry for help from a UX designer in South Africa, Jeanne Marias. She wrote, “I am pioneering a service design project, part of which I’m wanting to do a Mental Model of ‘The New Member Journey.’ I’ve charged ahead and gotten the whole team excited about mental models, but …

Journeys, Experiences, & Mental Spaces

The other day a university student named Maria Hernando wrote to ask me my opinion about the relationship between User Journey Maps, Customer Journey Maps, and User Experience Maps … and how a mental model diagram might relate to any one of them. I told Maria that I think of the maps as the same, …

Picking Out Guiding Principles

Picking out an actual “guiding principle” (something that guides how I make a decision) from a transcript is difficult. There is so much “brush” we need to clear away before we can see the “specimen trees” for what they are. Here is a perfect example. It’s a page from an architecture firm’s web brochure. The …

How to Wield Empathy

At at recent workshop, I conducted a spontaneous interview as a demonstration of what I mean by “create a scope perimeter within which any conversation can happen.” I asked for a volunteer and for a topic. The volunteer was Daren. The topic was air travel. I scoped the topic down to “planning and booking air …

Just Diving In: Hypothetical Audiences Segments and Interview Skills

BK: I was just re-reading some of the book and I was wondering how important it is to define the task-based segments. I’m not sure anyone here knows what users do well enough to make those guesses. I’m thinking of starting to talk to a few people who look promising and see what they say, …