To provide a great User Experience, you have to understand your users, what they think, they do, they imagine. You can then create the model of your product and give them access to it.
We tend to forget that the visible part of the product, the link with your users is a copy of your core product: the logic and the database.
It’s clearly visible when your target audience is developers.
Conceptual models and mental models
A mental model refers to the representation of something, of how a thing works in a person’s mind. They refer to it to predict how the product will work and what they should do with it.
People create a mental model very quickly and often before their utilisation of a product. Their mental models are based from past experience, so not everyone has the same mental model.
You have to understand the mental model of your target audience to design an intuitive user experience where the conceptual model match as much as possible with it.
The conceptual model is the actual model that is given to the user through the design and the interface.
Conceptual model is your database model
1. An example of a database model for a blog, 2. the site flow of the same blog
You can easily superpose those two sketch and see that the visual part is just a layout above the database schemas. So the layout, the conceptual model of your blog is a copy of your database schemas.
It is not new, it’s called a (Graphical) User Interface, a type of interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices through (visual) indicators.
The root of your Interface is a database schemas and some logic, we tend to forget that. But developers are the creators, and when your target audience is developers too, their mental models (impregnated with their experiences, skills and expertises) fits perfectly with your conceptual model.
There are no real designers. The conceptual model wasn’t really designed at all. It’s just a reflection of the underlying hardware or software or database, so the only people whose mental model it fits are the programmers. If the audience is not the programmers, then you’re in trouble.
100 things every designer needs to know about people – Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D
When your users are developers
At Recast.AI, a young French startup, we are working to create a platform of Artificial Intelligence for developers.
How create our conceptual model for our audience in order to provide a great user experience?
Our platform is organized around applications held by our users, and they can add folders and files. Our users could have some of this mental models:
They are developers, so their mental model will undoubtedly be inspired by GitHub, and by the term, the first interface human-computer.
When designers replaced the command line interface with the graphical user interface, billions of people who are not programmers could make use of computer technology.
The command line tools (CLI) is one of the possible interfaces, an API (application programming interface) too, even of a graphical interface.
All of these interfaces are layers on the database schemas, the root never change. So which one do we need to implement?
Maybe there’s not even a choice to make, because “developers” are a broad audience, and some of them don’t use command line tool or API, we can’t keep focus on one interface. So our service of Artificial Intelligence have to be usable on different supports, and we have included the API, the GUI and the CLI in our roadmap.
Currently, we have implemented 2 of those 3 interfaces and you will be able to use them soon 🙂 .