32. People Interact with Conceptual Models

To understand why mental models are so important to design, you also have to understand what a conceptual model is and how it differs from a mental model. A mental model is the representation that a person has in his mind about the object he is interacting with. A conceptual model is the actual model that is given to the person through the design and interface of the actual product. Going back to the iPad ebook example, you have a mental model of what reading a book will be like in the iPad, how it will work, and what you can do with it. But when you sit down with the iPad, the “system” (the iPad) displays what the conceptual model of the book app actually is. There will be screens and buttons and things ...

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