Chapter 6: Part 3 – Innovation: Rebuilding Mental Models

This is the real reason why “user experience” is so important in today’s business innovation. “User experience” design uses the “intuitive system” to help users’ “minds” stay on the right path. It’s like the signs you see in the subway that tell you how to transfer and how to find the exit.

In the field of “user experience design,” there is a classic book called “Don’t Make Me Think.” This title reveals the essence of “user experience.” The essence of “user experience” is based on a “user-centered” decision-making process. Imagine being in the subway and looking at the signs, not knowing which direction to go. Obviously, your decision-making is blocked. Similarly, when users are using your product and they stop and furrow their brows and think rationally, there is a high probability that they have also encountered a decision-making blockage phenomenon. If this decision-making blockage occurs in disruptive or breakthrough innovation fields, it will lead to “decision paralysis.”

If we want to change the phenomenon of “decision paralysis” in innovation, we need to rethink innovation from a “system” perspective. The problem is not only within the enterprise but also outside the enterprise. Moreover, the problem first occurs with our users. Innovation needs to complete a process of rebuilding the product usage environment. Users migrate from their original product or service usage environment to a new product or service usage environment. In this transition process, their “mental model” needs to be rebuilt.

Therefore, true “user experience design” is the process of product developers identifying and rebuilding users’ “mental models.” They help users obtain specific value through design and avoid user decision-making errors.

In innovative enterprises, we have specialized product development teams whose job is to help specific groups of users solve pain points by developing new products or services. These users have goals they need to achieve. But these goals are not achieved or not well achieved, so demand or pain points arise. Our product development team needs to use professional processes, tools and methods to study these user groups and figure out what their needs are in this matter. Not only the needs that users will tell you but also those that even they themselves do not know.

This is not enough; new products are used to solve users’ original pain points. That is to say, users actually have had an experience of using other solutions to solve them, and of course in this old story your users have been frustrated. For example, in some consumers’ minds, e-commerce actually replaces the old story of going to a big store to buy things. And going to a big store far away and spending a lot of time is their pain point. But if we develop websites and apps for e-commerce, we need to first understand how they used to buy things at big stores and why they thought of going there? How do they choose products in big stores? Then how do they pay and bring them home? This information is very important for our subsequent new product development. Therefore, the development team needs to further identify the series of decisions that users made in their original scenario in order to achieve their goals (or similar goals), as well as the cognitive processes and various conditional factors required for making these decisions. These factors include not only benefits but also emotional factors and so on.

On this basis, our development team will begin designing new products in earnest. They will use professional innovation tools and various methods to design new scenarios and processes. For example, providing new processes for users to purchase goods in an app. But it’s important that they don’t let users get stuck in this process with their “minds.” So product developers need to design new scenarios and processes based on their understanding of the “mental model” obtained through previous user research. Especially important is allowing users to make decisions smoothly by providing them with key decision-making factors previously discovered in new products in a new way that they can accept and reproduce. Ultimately helping these users form new “mental models” in new products or services.

In this process, we need to help users make accurate decisions, solve problems and achieve goals. Let users feel at ease and save their decision-making time while enjoying positive emotions. That is to say, “user experience design” further creates new psychological value for users throughout the above process.

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