UX Design

How to Use Mental Models in UX Design?

January 17, 2023
Credit to Anna Yashina

Mental models refer to the ideas users have in their heads and what steers their use of things. So, any mental model users have represents different factors and events such as one's first time experience with an application and previous experience with other products.

Ideally, mental models are essential in the development of documentation, tutorials, demos, and other ways of user experience design. However, it must be noted that mental models are based on beliefs and not facts. So, how do you use metal models in UX design?

UX designers can use UX research and usability testing to avoid implementing misaligned mental models. As a designer, your objective is to ensure your design complements users' needs and suits their mental model and prospects. You can use the following UX design best practices to help guide you:

Jakob's Law

Jakob's Law dictates that since users spend more time on their sites, they anticipate your site to operate similarly to other sites that they have visited previously. For you to complement this tradition, you should design your site with patterns that your users are familiar with.

Card sorting

Card sorting is relatively helpful in deciding how your users classify the information that will show up in your design. You can perform open card sorting whereby you issue players a deck of cards and request them to arrange it in a way that is significant to them.

You can also utilise closed card sorting to justify a pre-set information architecture. Consider asking questions regarding the groupings to obtain a better understanding of how the different parties visualise.

Natural user interface

A natural user interface, also known as "NUI" is an invisible UI that remains unnoticed while the user gradually learns the complex interactions. NUI should suit your user's context assuming the design feels normal to them. One good example of a natural user interface is when a user slides between home screen pages on Android or iOS devices. It seems natural to slide between these pages since it resembles turning over pages in a book.

Ideally, natural user interfaces are essential in UX design. Prominent firms like Apple use this tactic to enhance customer engagement and to develop real-world-like objects to relate to the user's experience. You also swap this technique to come up with elements that make users feel pleased when associating with an application.

What Does it entail to Become a UI Designer?

As stated earlier, user interface design is an essential part of user experience design, and mainly centralises how one can align with a specific product. The work of a UI designer is to create apps, websites, and any other product that is manageable by users.

Though this task is challenging, you can get it right in no time by following these tips:

Part 1: learning the basics

  • Start by studying the fundamental design principles. Take time to learn the doctrines of colours, contrast, symmetry, and balance.
  • Understand the innovative design process. Since UI design involves implementing ideas to action, it makes sense to familiarise yourself with discovery, define, and other phases that characterise a seasoned designer.
  • Read articles regarding UI design. This is notably one of the greatest principles of becoming a great designer. Take time to consult blogs, articles, books, and tutorials, to improve your knowledge by learning from experts.
  • Register for a degree program or an online course to officially study design. Many universities teach formal programs in design and graphic design. You should use this as an opportunity to gain ground as a UI designer.
  • Develop the necessary skills in data analysis, photography, or drawing and consider working in a cooperative environment. This should improve your potential to work with others.
  • Familiarise yourself with digital tools for graphic design to become a unique UI designer. Some of the digital tools include Figma, Axure, and Sketch. However, beware that such tools need a paid subscription to access them.
  • Search for opportunities to cooperate with other designers since coordination is a great skill to develop in today's design world. This allows you to gain experience from seasoned designers.
  • Seek advice from a seasoned mentor to understand what it takes to be a successful UI designer.
  • Seek an internship from a leading brand. Once you've gained enough experience in this field of expertise, try enrolling for an internship in various brands. This is part of improving your chances of being employed.
  • Be sure to stay up-to-date with the current trend in the design industry. Use apps like UX magazine and UX Booth to keep you updated on the recent design world.
  • Establish a portfolio that illustrates your capabilities before searching for jobs. This increases your chances of being favored for the available UI design jobs.
  • Build an online presence by opening a Linkedin account and ensure it is updated to display all your previous experience in this field.
  • When called for an interview, remember to emphasise your professional qualities. Your objective is to convince your potential employers. Therefore, ensure you explain in detail all the proficient skills you have as a designer, to outshine other applicants.

Final Thoughts

Designing apps can be a difficult task, but with the basic information covered in this guide, you can succeed. So why not give it a shot? Use this guide as a starting point for building a stronger brand, gaining a competitive advantage, increasing customer loyalty, and providing more value to your clients.

Image credit:
Justina Leisyte