Recently my wife & I were scouting for electrical fittings & accessories for our new house. After purchasing most of the stuff, we got into an argument over which bell to buy. She fancied instrument which had Bollywood tones as ring while I wanted to settle for old fashioned bells which had high, if not shrill ring. For me the ‘ting tong’ bell worked. We finally went for the Bollywood one and got it installed. It’s been a week now and we all are still struggling to get a hang of it. First of all, it takes more than a few seconds for the mind to register that it’s our door bell which is ringing! The reason being, it sounds more like a mobile ring tone than a bell. Worse, the instrument is located in my bedroom & if we are standing in guest bedroom balcony and there is lots of noise around, at times it takes more than a few push & “laila-o-laila’ encore before anyone can get to hear it! The other day I had to spend 5 mins outside the house ringing the bell and then flash out my mobile and call wifey inside to open the door! I suspect had it been the old fashioned bell, the sound wouldn’t have caused these problems. Somewhere in back of mind, the bell still stands for ‘ting tong’. A sound like that registers immediately in your mind no matter in which corner of the house you are and perhaps the reason lies in the fact that we have grown up listening to bells which had high pitch noise. Bells which most of the times had always gone ‘ting tong’ and less on ‘gayatri mantra’ tones.
Similarly in software design, it’s very important to know about your user’s mental model, about the way they perceive things to be. Users will take on to your product like a duck to the water only if they find it designed the way that mirrors their work & thought flow pattern.