Implementation models vs mental models IRL

If you’ve read “About Face” (Cooper, Reimann, Cronin) you’ll recognise this diagram. It’s a great description of how a product can be closely related to the way it was built (the implementation model), or the way a user relates to it (the mental model).

Implementation models vs mental models

Here are some products that are close to the implementation model:

  • The command line
  • IRC
  • Opening files with VLC

Here are some ideas that pull implementation closer to a mental model:

  • An email inbox
  • A desktop in your operating system
  • Folder icons in Explorer / Finder / GNOME

It never occurred to me that the same could happen in real life, but here it is, from a gym in Birmingham, UK. This is a sheet that members use to refer their friends (presumably in return for a discount).


One response to “Implementation models vs mental models IRL”

  1. haha, why don’t they just print the database credentials and we’ll insert the data ourselves.
    I might refer little bobby tables (

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