isn’t a mental model something else, not a diagram?

models people have of themselves, others, their environment, and things they interact with.

Don Norman’s definition of a mental model from Design of Everyday Things.

Frequently when people hear the phrase “mental model” they think of a narrow slice of Don Norman’s definition. In his book The Design of Everyday Things, right after discussing his example of the refrigerator/freezer controls, he¬†writes this definition of mental models: Read More

combing vs. grouping

“What is a task, exactly?” This question came up in conversation today as the team at the University of Buffalo starts to comb some of the 47 interviews they conducted.

It is an unfortunate choice of words on my part, which may lead people astray during combing. The word “task” is leftover from the practice of “task analysis” which had been a favorite practice of usability research in the last decade. For the usability practice, a task is something someone does, like “Register for an account” or “Go to the doctor.” I explain in the book that I don’t really mean this kind of task. I want something like “Feel excited about the convenience of voice-controlled calendar access on my mobile phone via toktok” or “Ask the doctor if the online article about symptoms describe what I have.” Read More