Mental Model

A mental model diagram shows the activities of a service broken down into specific user tasks. These are then aligned with the features and content that support the completion of the task. Mental models ground feature discussions in actual user needs and help create a roadmap and prioritization by showing what user tasks are well supported and which tasks have little or no support.


  1. Conduct behavioural interviews that focus on a specific service area with defined tasks. Record and transcribe the interviews

  2. Analyze transcripts by pulling out specific activities, tasks, actions, and quotes

  3. Cluster actions into similar groups using sticky notes

  4. Determine related groups of tasks

  5. Arrange the tasks into columns, and then group the columns into similar activities

  6. Align features or content from your digital application or service with the relevant tasks (how does your site or service support the set of tasks that people need to do in this domain?)

  7. Identify the gaps in how your digital application or service supports user tasks and discuss what opportunities exist to improve

Additional Resources

Book: Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior by Indi Young