Metaphors and mental models

Interview with the original Xerox dudes: Bringing Design to Software

“The purpose of computer metaphors, in general, and particularly of graphical or icon-oriented ones, is to let people use recognition rather than recall.”

I’ve been thinking about how mental models (the way users think about things) are about categories (how users organise things) or metaphors (how they explain things).

The category based mental models are really useful for information architecture. The metaphor based mental models aren’t used very often – or else I don’t understand them very well. I don’t really see how I’d use them in web design, except for the obvious and most often flawed examples of using metaphors like “rooms” for navigating websites.

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