Last weekend (well…Sunday night) I started to read “The Design of Everyday Things“. At first I have to admit that I was quite bored with the book, I don’t know why… It might be the fact that I took the time to go through the preface and introduction and it kind of turned me off. Then I started to read the first chapter and I have to say, I’m intrigued. While reading the first chapter I found myself not really being able to grasp the concept of well, conceptual models.
In my own words, a conceptual model is an understanding of how something functions simply by the way it looks. As designers we can control the conceptual model a user generates by using constraints, affordances, and mapping. Good conceptual models allow users to predict the effects of our actions. The source of my confusion comes from the section in the book were the he continues to explain conceptual models with an example of a complex refrigerator system. From that the author states that there are three different models when it comes to how people use and perceive “things”, for lack of a better term. There is the design model, which is the conceptual model of the designer. This would be how the designer thinks the thing will be used. There is the user model which is the individual users mental model or understanding of how something works/functions. Or how the user actually uses it. Finally, there is the system image which is the actual ‘thing’, again, for lack of a better term.
Hey… It just clicked on how this related to Web design and development!