- Exploring Mental Models for Application in Networking Applications, Telephony and Environments


Guidelines --> Discussion --> Conceptual Design

Conceptual design was introduced by Norman under the heading of “cognitive engineering” in 1986. Central to conceptual design is the concept of users’ models, i.e. users’ mental models of how an application works. The closer users’ models match how the application actually works, the more effective will users be able to use the application. Users form their users’ models through interacting with the system image (user interface, manuals, training etc.), and on the basis of their previous knowledge and experience. Conceptual design is about bridging the gap between the system image and the users’ models. In order to achieve this, Norman suggests designing the system image on the basis of a clear and concise design model. The design model should attempt to minimise the gap between users’ intentions and how these intentions are executed in the system. It should also take users’ previous knowledge and experience into account

Further Reading

Hear it from the horse's mouth A textbook giving good guidance on how to do conceptual design A case study applying conceptual design to a small Internet application A thesis on conceptual design and mental models in HCI

Last changed by L.Sheeran@cs.ucl.ac.uk on 30 August 2000