Part 2: Why I use a Mac

Mental Models

A great way to reduce effective complexity is to align the conceptual model expressed by your interface with your user’s mental model as closely as possible. A poorly thought out model contributes to complexity by adding a significant amount of cognitive work that your users have to perform to learn your interface.

The recurrence UI in Windows Calendar, for instance, reflects the developer’s model of the task rather than the user’s model. Take a look at the second set of radio options in this screenshot:

Windows Calendar

1. What’s the “28th last day of the month”?

2. What’s the “4th last Tuesday of the month”?

3. How long did you spend trying to work that out?

These options feel complex because the language used and functionality that’s represented doesn’t reflect your understanding of repeating events. Combat this issue by researching how your users conceptualize relevant tasks so your models are intuitive. You can read more about mental models in the HIG.

via Managing UI Complexity | Brandon Walkin.

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