What is Conceptual Model Design?

As Don Norman simply puts it, Conceptual design is “Design of everyday things

So true!

Can you recollect all things you used in the last 24 hours? – wake up alarm, socks, those super comfy jogging shoes, tea pot, tea cup, head phones, car, traffic signals, laptop, smartphone, water bottle, desk, chair, pen, newspaper, stove, knife..
pretty much everything you use, went through a process of ‘conceptual design’ to make your life comfortable; enticing you to stay loyal to it.

Had you thought of it?

Yeah! All designers, who designed products you use, explored you; constantly lived in questions to understand you. How you see things? What you prefer? How you interact with things? How will you understand it’s feedback?

Yes, products provide feedback, they interact with you intuitively; like say “Yes, am processing your request, please wait user”.

Simple example – ‘web browsers’; animated circle which intuitively communicates – “am loading, please wait”.

Conceptual design goes through a process of User-Centered Analysis (UCA).

UCA and conceptual design is important in digital world too. Recollect all the essential apps you use in your day-to-day life. One of the very important app will be your banking app.

Understanding user affordance to perform every task in apps, especially banking apps is vital.

Let me share one of my experience operating my corporate account.

Have you been aware of our auto programmed dramatic emotion when any app says ‘change password now’? Doesn’t the emotions get higher when these prompts are from ‘banking apps’?

Banking apps frequently request you to change password and once I committed a sin; forgot to record this changed/new password. Yeah, I did! And the experience of procuring fresh corporate login credentials for my corporate account was.. hmm.. stressful! I promised to myself; “Never, ever, will I forget my password”.

This time when it requested me to change password, I was alert and made sure to type in every character correctly. It still kept saying ‘wrong password’ ‘wrong password’.

See, we are humans after all, fear paralyses us. I prefer the app to prompt me clearly which password was it asking me to change – ‘login password’ or ‘transaction password’.

The prompt was so not created for me – black, arial, 10px, normal font saying ‘change your transaction password’. And the word ‘password’ highlighted in bold red. All my brain processed was, the very first word ‘change’ and the red bold one ‘password’ – ‘change password’. How would you have functioned? What password would have you thought it asked you to change?

The behavioural experience I have with my bank is not pleasant and subconsciously banking app does not reflect too well in my mind anymore.

These are the situations where User-Centered Analysis (UCA) and conceptual design plays important role. UCA engineers/designers are trained to consider user’s behavioural emotions, cognitive interpretation and how their subconscious mind reflects to it.

Mind you! subconscious mind is the user’s master. You have to learn and understand the psychology of subconscious mind and design to keep subconscious mind happy and pleasant. Subconscious mind absorbs much more than we are truly aware of. Subconscious mind decides what to trust and what to stay away from.

UCA and Conceptual design is an art to understand the user, so investing time here will ensure 80% of your product success.

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By Jayanthi Varma

Jayanthi is Imajine's Co-Founder, Designer and Developer. Jayanthi is in the field of website design and web app development since 2003. Jayanthi is also a certified User Centered Analyst.

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