Mental models in UX Design in examples

I wanted to share this article for designers, product managers and anyone in the software development cycle. The importance of taking into account what user expectations are - vs - what you think they will understand is enormous. This mistake in UX is becoming commonplace as UX designers become more available to creating experiences we interact with on a daily basis.

A recent and basic mental model that has changed over the years include pressing a button to turn on a car instead of inserting a key and turning the key to start the car. According to research users who enter a car still look for where to put the key before understanding the vehicle starts with merely a button. Pushing UX forward is important but doing this responsibly and in a way backed by data and research is the only path to adopting new methods of interaction.


The cornerstone of every effective design is followed by research.

Thus, the understanding and research of mental models is very important for the designer, without this, it is not possible to create new and improve existing products.

There are thousands of known mental models, but the best ones apply broadly to life and are useful in a wide range of situations. Of all the mental models humankind has generated throughout history, there are just a few dozen that you need to master to have a firm grasp of how the world works. To quote Charlie Munger, “80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly-wise person. And, of those, only a mere handful really carry very heavy freight.”

You don’t need to master every detail of every subject to become a world-class thinker. Many of the most important mental models are the big ideas from disciplines like biology, chemistry, physics, economics, mathematics, psychology, philosophy. Each field has a few mental models that form the backbone of the topic.