Stuart Karten: Mode Mapping

by New Idiom


Stuart Karten’s talk about mode mapping presented a practical approach to understanding user experiences.  Modes are akin to the user’s various motivations and states of mind during a task. Karten followed users to see how people spent their time during these tasks, which usually involved a day’s worth of shadowing. Afterwards, he plotted the various modes they went through the day and categorized the activities into groups. In conducting research for a dog food client, the dog owner that he observed during feeding time engaged in preparation, feeding, and cleanup modes. That was complemented by the dog’s modes of waiting and eating. (Hey, it’s called user-centered design. Pups are users, too.) In addition to the insights gained, mode mapping is also a useful tool to show clients. As Karten said, clients like to see a process, and mode mapping provides that in order to achieve a level of buy-in from them.