Mental Models for GIMP as a student project

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Part two of Mental Models for GIMP was carried out as a student project, as a collaboration between TU Berlin, man + machine interface works and relevantive AG. A short German description is available at relevantive AG. It was carried out by seven students of University of Technology Berlin from April to July 2012. Aim of the project was to deliver a more comprehensive set of results than the previous project. The method followed Indi Young’s book “Mental Models”. During the project, the students carried out the following activities:


Eight interviews with professionals in the fields of photo manipulation, graphics production and arts were conducted, which included recruiting participants according to the vision briefing, interviewing them and transcribing the interviews.

Analysis and aggregation

Interview transcripts were further processed by extracting tasks, needs and philosophies. These findings were aggregated bottom-up. Related tasks or behaviors were grouped into several Mental Spaces. These Mental Spaces together with their respective tasks formed a Mental Map. This diagram gives a high-level overview of users’ tasks and behaviors.

Mental Model and Gap Analysis

In the next step, a Content / Function Inventory diagram based on the functionality overview at was created. This diagram comprised all the functions available in GIMP. The combination of the Mental Map and the Function Inventory gave a full Mental Model. It was used to perform a Gap Analysis, giving hints for both already well-supported tasks as well as requested functionality in GIMP.


The final Mental Model diagram will be available in the wiki soon.


Many thanks to the students for devoting so much time and energy to this project. Help and support in terms of student supervision, facilities, time and material provided by University of Technology Berlin, man + machine interface works and relevantive AG is also highly appreciated.