In my last post, I talked about Akin Arikan’s Multichannel Marketing as a good book for understanding how to better understand brand and direct marketers and put web analytics into context that they can understand. Another book I spent time with this summer is Indi Young’s Mental Models. While “mental models” is an oft-used research term, Indi writes “the top part of the model is a visual depiction of the behavior of a particular audience…the bottom part of the model shows various ways of supporting matching behaviors. Where support and behavior are aligned, you have a solution. Where a behavior is not supported, you have an opportunity to explore further.”
I like this concept, and I also like the idea of graphically displaying behaviors and motivations, that can be used for requirements development and analysis. Why not use this technique for developing requirements on web metrics development and presentation…people view data and want to receive data and analysis differently. If you are dealing with a large stakeholder population, this method of scenario development might be quite interesting to try. Taking this in another direction, the use of mental models to analyze audiences to improve web site user experience is a natural complement to understanding the “why” of web site behavior. This is the type of book I can see returning to on multiple occasions for reference and inspiration.