I'm struggling a bit with the practical advantage of mental models vs.
personas. I've been doing some reading on MM (and there doesn't seem to be
many good articles, found a handful) and there is quite a difference of
opinion on their effectiveness, their creation and their benefit within an
What strikes me as that in the end, both MM and personas seem to offer very
similar outputs. They both offer a kind of segmentation and an understanding
of an archetype user which is used as a design tool and so forth.
While I assume there is overlap in user interview data that can be used to
create both tools, it seems that MM are very time consuming to properly
create, just as personas are. What I wonder is there really that much
benefit in having both - particularly in having a MM? Having a persona seems
to offer much of what a MM brings - it allows you to think as the user and
how they see the system. Is having a "cityscape" diagram going to really
help that much more?
My guess is that the more complex the project, the more bang you might get
out of them. When time can be such a limited commodity, I'm wondering if
it's best to go with personas only, if there was a choice to be made (and
possibly even if there isn't).
It's quite possible, however, that I am missing the boat entirely. Too bad
Rosenfeld's book is not out yet.