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



EMMANATE was a joint project between University College London and Sussex University, funded by the EPSRC (GR/M03399). EMMANATE finished in May 2000. This Web site contains a brief description of the projects and the design recommendations which came out of the project. For further information, please contact individual project members, or send an email to the project email address (emmanate@cogs.susx.ac.uk).


Networked multimedia applications are increasingly permeating our lives. However, applications are rarely designed to account for being networked and when the network breaks down, the user is not helped in selecting the appropriate recovery action. This leads to frustration for the user and inefficient use of network resources. This project will contribute both substantive knowledge about how users believe networks and applications work, and an interface design methodology that can utilise this knowledge to guide users into appropriate actions.

Using techniques from previous work on eliciting mental models, we will empirically determine linguistic phrases, visual metaphors and other concepts that people use in attempting to understand the behaviour of networks. Using a combination of focus groups, questionnaires, literature analysis and situated tutoring, we will build a taxonomy of key concepts used in formulating mental models of network and network applications.

Then, within the framework of conceptual design, we shall demonstrate how our results can be used to design interfaces which evoke appropriate users' mental models of applications and services. These will enable users to use services in an appropriate way and diagnose and respond to Quality of Service (QoS) problem. We will be working with both traditional and novel applications developed in other projects.

The major market benefit of this work is ensuring that the gulf between the models used by network service providers and designers of their services, and the models held by their end-users (customers), is bridged. Customers who have appropriate models are not only likely to use services in an appropriate manner, but to be more confident and explore further uses of services. A secondary benefit would be that of turning a currently theoretical design approach into a design method which is accessible to and applicable by designers.

Last changed by L.Sheeran@cs.ucl.ac.uk on 25 August 2000