Continued from uno..
I’ll attempt to describe the notions of “mental model” and “affordances” in this quick post. Our mind constantly picks up pre-conceived notions and expectations about certain things. Mind assumes certain object to have a particular set of characteristics and if it finds out otherwise, it has a tendancy to judge the object as poorly designed.
A simplest example in digital terms could be: A button control on a web form, needs to be clickable at the very least. Our mind expects a button to be clickable and expects something to happen to the form once the button is clicked. If that basic ‘clickability’ is missing, the mind would judge the button or the form as “poorly” designed. Coming back to our example of designing a kitchen – no matter who the kitchen is for, human mind expects the kitchen to have to do something with food – ideally cooking/preparing/storing. This set of characteristics and expectations that human mind has for every object is referred to as the mental model.
While following the design template, it is important to acknowledge the mental model for the object that is being designed and write it down. Some people also refer to it as affordance. For instance,
- To be round is an affordance of a ball
- To deal with food is an affordance of a kitchen
- To be clickable is an affordnace of a button
- To send and receive messages is an affordance of a chat/mail client
- To add friends is an affordance of a social network
If your design lacks to acknowledge that, it may be easy to miss out on some fundamental points.
Let’s design the obvious!