- Paperback: 299 pages
- Publisher: Rosenfeld Media; 1st edition (February 15, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1933820063
- ISBN-13: 978-1933820064
- Package Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #926,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior Paperback – Color, February 15, 2008
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There's a passion for mental models in this book which is contagious, even to an existing supporter of the concept. --Joanna Bawa, Usability News
I think it is a must read for design teams. When using Indi Young's mental models in your process you will without a doubt improve the quality of your products for the target audience. --Jeroen van Geel, Johnny Holland
Those in the social sciences will revel in its qualitative and intuitive approach, yet those in the hard science will appreciate its straightforward and simplistic tone. --Marisa Peacock, CMSWire
About the Author
Indi's work spans a number of decades, from the mid-80's when the desktop metaphor was replacing command line and menu-based systems, to the mid-90's when the Web first toddled onto the scene, to now, when designers are intent on crafting good experiences. After 10 years of consulting, Indi founded Adaptive Path with six other partners in 2001, all hoping to spread good design around the world, making things easier for people everywhere. Indi's mental models have helped both start-ups and large corporations discover and support customer behaviors they didn't think to explore at first. She has written a book about the mental model method, Mental Models - aligning design strategy with human behavior, published by Rosenfeld Media. She is now consulting independently, conducting mental model workshops, and mentoring.
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Jim Mandas - Customer Experience consultant.
This book provides some theory but assumes the understanding the user research is important. It is a step-by-step, comprehensive guide of how to carry out the method of Mental Models in real projects. I especially like that Indi takes into account variable situations practitioners might face and weighs different shortcuts and approaches based on these situations. For example, she explains what to do if you are keen to create a mental model on a project but have no stakeholder support. This is brilliant because a lot of online guides aren't as grounded in reality and tend to leave you convinced but empty-handed.
This book is not a theoretical exploration of a topic or a poetic argument for user experience, so do not buy it if you're looking for that kind of inspiration. What is it good for is a hands-on guide for conducting user research in a way that's based on delivering a long-term, deep, and productive understanding of an organisation and a way to analyse or create a product. It focuses on generative research (done to uncover a mental context a user/customer is in, not to test a particular product). The book provides guidance and advice for each step of the process, and anything lacking in the book is explained in the appendices. I found the appendix that covers the cost and duration of such a project particularly useful because I was able to provide my employer with an idea of the investment we are expecting to make by transforming our method to this approach.
There are some things that might make it easier for you to enjoy the book or find it useful: it helps if you have some understanding of how to listen to people or some experience conducting ethnographic interviews, it definitely helps if your organisation/employer is open to change or adopting new strategies. I can see how a very stiff work environment would make this book frustrating. I got immediately fascinating by the idea of trying this out, and it was brilliant to find my manager as excited. Nevertheless, the book provides some advice even for those working in a very large organisation.
I should mention that I also attended Indi Young's workshop on the methods in this book. When I left, I was definitely convinced that--if done right--this method can produce amazingly rich insights and drive design, product improvements, organisational business strategy, and anything else that requires understanding how particular people work. Some of the other reviews mention "fluff" and empty filler words. I also found the many quotations quite tedious but they did not reduce my opinion of the usefulness of the book. Perhaps the feeling that some sections are too detailed or obvious comes from a difference in expertise. The book is definitely written for practitioners of all levels so those who have been doing UX for over ten years will definitely find some sections to be repetitive.
I should also say that I find the process of getting started quite difficult. This is not a quick fix or a magic pill but a detailed method that requires understanding, learning, and practice. The book has left me feeling that I can accomplish all three.
What Young approaches in this book is something much broader: She provides a start-to-finish approach to documenting the way a whole group of people relate to your product space - their needs, tasks, and perspectives. She provides great detail in how to proceed, including literal instructions for your spreadsheet, etc. This then leads to larger insights about product (or product line) strategy, which is useful (but seems off the mark of mental models, to me).
I found this book a bit heavy on quotations and task instructions, a little light on Young's personal insights. This might have held up better as a chapter in a book on user research methods (i.e., Kuniavsky's book).