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Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior



September, 9th
At the conference venue.
From 9h to 12h and from 15:30h to 19h


Indi YoungIndi’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 helped found Adaptive Path with six other partners, 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. Now she’s back to consulting, and she has written a book about the mental model method, Mental Models - aligning design strategy with human behavior, published by Rosenfeld Media. Indi lives just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in California, where she reads science fiction, bakes a lot of cookies, and battles gophers in her garden.


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.

Those in the field of cognitive research have been describing and defining mental models for several decades. Mental models are the most effective way to align design strategy with your users’ behavior, and to approach your design from the understanding of the end user. Mental models are representations of people’s behavior, philosophies, and emotion around how they accomplish something, regardless of which tools they use.

This workshop is for web designers, product designers and marketing professionals who want to uncover their customer needs at a deeper level.

The workshop will cover

* Non-directed interview techniques
* How to recognize tasks and implied tasks in transcripts
* How to let tasks build themselves into patterns of a mental model
* Definition and prioritization of what to design

Attendees will work in teams to practice interview techniques, analyze transcripts, build a mental model, and align offerings. We’ll review techniques ranging from purely electronic to stacks of sticky notes. The objective of this workshop is to allow attendees to return home with a set of skills they can put to immediate use on their current projects. There is a site, hosted by the publisher of the mental model book, where attendees can download templates, ask questions, share examples, and stay up-to-date with improvements in the process.

Pre-Requisite Skills

Participants are folks who have been asked to design an online product, corporate website, intranet, or a B-to-C or B-to-B site with extensive content. Participants will have familiarity with information architecture and product design. Participants may have problems with internal politics, power over the design, or may simply want a more robust, verifiable method to design solutions. This course is also appropriate for participants at the managerial or director level who are interested in running more reliable projects.



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