Conceptual Model- a design methodology
The conceptual model and the mental model concepts have been around for a while, but they haven’t been fully developped in the design field. I want the methodology to be a helpful and efficient way to design better products.
This diagram is from Don Norman. This is the article
Designers express their conceptual model through the product. Don Norman called it “system image” or we can call it controls, and users get their mental models through the controls or the “system image.”
This is my own experience. Before I ever went to IKEA, I thought the process would simply mean finding a piece of furniture, paying for it and it will be delivered to my home, however after I bought the big sofa I gained a much more complex mental model. I learned their shopping process during the experience, breaking my previous mental model and developing a new mental model. I didn’t understand why the sofa can be related with two or more article numbers. The first time, we didn’t buy the cover for the sofa. The second time, we bought the sofa’s feet with wrong color.
People create mental models.
People interact with conceptual models
In my perspective, there are two other models that are closely related with conceptual model: mental model and implementation model. More about the theories.
To develop the methodology, my professors suggested that I should find a specific area to research. I chose the air conditioner in car, because it is not too complex, such as the email system, or too simple, such as the alarm clock. Furthermore, the air conditioners in cars haven’t been fully “user-centered designed.”
I want to point out two main “mis-matches” between mental models and conceptual models:
These two mis-matches are mis-matches between the user’s mental model and the designer’s conceptual model (designers’ or engineers’ intentions). They are links between controls (operations) and outcomes(goals).
1. Further Interviews: explore different aspects of how people think about it, find out more details about their mental models.
2. Explore better ways to represent and compare the models.
3. Redesign the climate system in the car.
4. Look for designers who designed the climate system in the car, and see their responses on this new design methodology.
This diagram expresses the relationships between goals, tasks and operations. As I am not clear about how mental and conceptual models look like, I did this diagram to explore the models of these two models.