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Context for the Design Model (re-post)

May 13, 2009

The following extract is taken from my main blog and discusses the models used in cognitively representing how things work from websites to objects. This is the starting point for this 1st project. As my reading progresses I will add more on these models to this blog.

Cognitive Modelling: Norman’s ‘Design Model’ Friday, 30 January 2009
“Interaction design aims to rebalance digital products in favour of the human rather than the machine. By facilitating clearer cognitive behavioural understanding in the user, interactions can be made more beneficial to the user. Where this chapter really begins to become useful is in its explanation of conceptual models in order to visualise how humans and computers work. The first model Donald Norman refers to as the system model (or implementation model). This is the cognitive model that explains the processing structure of the code.

How code processes its actions and how human beings believe a computer/device/machine works are not the same. The human’s mental model of how it works can be simplistic, counter-intuitive, fanciful, inaccurate, illogical; but as long as it helps the human successfully use their computer/device/machine it doesn’t matter to them. Where a lot of problems arise within interactivity is the chasm that can form because these two mental models are representationally different. One is a mapping of actual processes – ‘implementation’, the other is purely notional – ‘explanation’.

To interface between ‘implementation’ and ‘explanation’ a third model arises, a model that Donald Norman refers to as the design model, and Cooper et al refers to as a represented model. A designer’s model that maps closer to a system/implementation model maybe more ‘accurate’ to the actual mechanics of processing, but is cognitively problematic to human users [A in diagram].

A successful interface is one where a user can see how their “goals and needs can be met” (Cooper et al, 2007, p32). This is achieved through making the design model follow as closely as possible the users’ perceptions of how they believe they access the content [C in diagram].”


Mental Models

Mental Models


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