A cognitive map is a mental map of an environment. Participants map a physical or virtual environment by what they remember based on their knowledge of a space.
1. Recruit participants and organize materials and a space for a creative session.
2. As a moderator ask a participant to create a map showing how they navigate in a real or virtual space. This can be done several times. Keep in mind that maps can be created in collaboration by a group of people to incorporate different viewpoints.
3. Ask other participants to navigate through the map, how they perform a task or how they “read” the space.
4. Take notes of what participants describe, take special note of moments where the participants backtrack or change their primary goal.
5. Analyse the different maps and the flow each of them has.
When you need to gain understanding of the way users navigate through a design solution.
Most solutions are developed by people that are not the end users, this allows to test of the users understand the design.
Space doesn’t necessarily have to be physical, a website or an app also require navigation skills.
List of what works and what doesn’t work in the design.
Refine the design based on the insights that have been gained.
EDEN, Colin. On the nature of cognitive maps. Journal of management studies, 1992, 29.3: 261-265. MONTELLO, Daniel R. Cognitive map-design research in the twentieth century: Theoretical and empirical approaches. Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 2002, 29.3: 283-304.