Conceptual Model

A conceptual model is a structured and coherent outline of ideas about how a web site or application will work. It is based on the requirements table and findings from audience and stakeholder research. It can include a model for the content (site map), high level wireframes, user journeys, technical architecture diagrams, and high level style guides.

Benefits in a nutshell

  • explains strategy and core ideas of the envisioned Web site or application
  • helps communicating the ‘big picture’ throughout the development process

Concept model

“A concept model is a diagram that shows the relationships between different abstract concepts. You can apply the concept modeling technique in a variety of circumstances to explain different aspects of a website. Also known as concept maps or affinity diagrams.”

From: Brown, Dan (2007), Communicating Design, Berkeley: New Riders, p.137

Conceptual model (Norman)

“To summarize, a conceptual model is a story. It doesn’t have to discuss the actual mechanisms of the operation. But it does have to pull the actions together into a coherent whole that allows the user to feel in control, to feel there is a reason for the way things are structured, to feel that, when necessary, it’s possible to invent special variations to get out of trouble and, in general, feel mastery over the device.”

From: Norman, Don (1999), The Invisible Computer: Why Good Products can fail, The Personal Computer Is So Complex and Information Appliances Are The Solution, New York: Harper Collins, p.179

From conceptual models to physical design

    Many issues will need to be addressed when developing and testing initial prototypes of conceptual models. These include:

  1. the way information is to be presented and interacted with at the interface
  2. what combinations of media to use (e.g., whether to use sound and animations)
  3. the kind of feedback that will be provided
  4. what combinations of input and output devices to use (e.g., whether to Use speech, keyboard plus mouse, handwriting recognition)
  5. whether to provide agents and in what format
  6. whether to design operations to be hardwired and activated through physical buttons or to represent them on the screen as part of the software
  7. what kinds of help to provide and in what format

From: Preece, J., Rogers, Y., Sharp, H. (2002), Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction, New York: Wiley, p.65

Conceptual model

“By a conceptual model is meant a description of the proposed system in terms of a set of integrated ideas and concepts about what it should do, behave and look like, that will be understandable by the users in the manner intended.”

From: Preece, J., Rogers, Y., Sharp, H. (2002), Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction, New York: Wiley, p.40