Tool: Mental Models

Indi Young, a founding partner of user-experience consultants Adaptive Path, creates color-coded diagrams she calls "mental models" for clients seeking to revamp their Web sites with imaginative new features such as photo-sharing. Young outlines how customers experience a Web offering first-hand, then tries to translate that to clickable Web actions. The diagrams provide a picture of what customers want to accomplish via a site. The mental models also compare these expectations with what's already offered. The goal is to provide a single landscape (some paper maps are up to 24 feet wide) that reveals gaps and strengths before redesigning a client's Web site. Young and her Adaptive Path colleagues have made diagrams for Dow Corning, Microsoft, Princess Cruises (CCL ), and Wells Fargo (WFC ).

By Reena Jana

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