Indi got her start as a software engineer designing interactive models and compilers on supercomputers. When she switched to personal hand-held devices (the PenPoint & Newton age), it became overwhelmingly evident that engineers were creating apps for fellow engineers. Someone needed to be able to understand the everyday person who was trying to make their day more effective.
This is when she learned how to listen deeply to what people were saying and how they were thinking. Indi consulted for many dot-com start-ups during the boom.
During the bust, Indi founded Adaptive Path with six other interaction designer—information architect—writer—speaker—teaching pioneers. After five years of intensive projects, Indi stepped aside to write her book, Mental Models.
She currently consults, writes a blog at Rosenfeld Media, and searches for rich chocolate cookies in every town she visits.
What's a mental model? Those in the field of cognitive research have been describing and defining mental models for a few decades. The term "mental model" has come to mean "a mental representation." The mental models described in this workshop are representations for your design team of the intentions, philosophies, and emotions of the people you are trying to support as they carry on with life within a certain scope. In this workshop, Indi Young will teach you how to deeply understand customer reasoning before making design and strategic decisions through the use of mental models. Mental models provide a clear roadmap of where your organization should invest its energies, and also where it shouldn't, allowing you to stretch your limited resources and maximize your precious time. Mental models will also allow you to derive an information architecture from users' tasks that will last 10 years, and get everyone from discordant team members to busy executives on the same page with respect to design and planning. After this presentation, you'll come away with an understanding of how mental models have helped organizations from a variety of industries, and be able to create your own mental models right away to improve your applications, services, and products. You'll understand the pros and cons of mental models, and how they fit with other user experience design methods. And you'll be able to avoid the frustrating mistakes that often get in the way while developing mental models.
After you get back to your desk, how do you introduce a little of what you've learned at the conference? You're up against the same old budget, the same old office politics, and the same old non-believers. Mental model diagrams were created as a neutral data point, allowing your discussions with people to be more logical and less turf-like. I'll show you some examples how real people adapted these diagrams to their own purpose. I've seen how mental model diagrams help people ward off requests from corporate for stupid ideas, how the diagrams increase qualified leads, make sense of where a process is broken, convince VCs that another round of funding is a good idea, and that a new product line requested by execs shouldn't be pursued ... yes, stopped in its tracks.