Posted by: Harold Ennulat | December 13, 2010

Mental Modeling

I’m always looking for new ways of doing something.   Mental Modeling is a concept where you ask yourself, “If I were designing this, how would I want it to work?”  It transcends coding and puts coding off to the side for a while as we think through and layout how we want a particular thing to work ideally.  It is an exercise that perhaps many of us do instinctively.  I just ran across an article that describes this process and shows that “Mental Modeling” has been (at least somewhat) formalized.

The article is entitled:  “The Secret to Designing an Intuitive UX“.  UX means “User Experience”.

The article points out that it really isn’t about our “mental model” when we design something, but our users “mental model” about how they expect something to work that we need to try to capture.  We may choose to implement a model that is different from the users “mental model”, but this is best done with an awareness of a users expectation or mental model.  Being aware of the users mental models that might be in operation when approaching your implementation, the designer can do things to smooth the users transitional experience to the new model. 

click to see detailThe author, Dr. Susan Weinschenk puts it this way:  “I say that the secret to designing an intuitive user experience is making sure that the conceptual model of your product matches, as much as possible, the mental models of your users. If you get that right you will have created a positive and useful user experience”.


  1. very interesting article both your and the refereed one in the article. I love to read them, Thanks for sharing

    • I see you reposted the article with some new graphics. Nice!
      Thanks for your comments.

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