FRONT MATTER | INTRODUCTION
WORKING THROUGH SCREENS 19
of contemporary technologies. The domain specific examples used throughout will reinforce this focus. Although some of the functionalities described in these examples are presumably not available in real world tools (no specific products were referred to during the writing or illustration of this book), they are intended to represent realistic possibilities for interactive computing in the present tense.
Thirteen Categories of Envisioning Ideas The 100 envisioning ideas are broken into thirteen different categories that form chapters of sorts. While these chapters are suited to random access skimming, some readers may benefit from having first familiarized themselves with key ideas in categories A, B, and C, such as “Interrelations of operation, task, and activity scenarios” or “Intentional and articulated conceptual models,” if they are unfamiliar with these notions. The following brief descriptions of the thirteen idea categories conclude this introductory section: Category A, “Exploring work mediation and determining scope,” contains nine ideas that can help product teams pursue useful understandings of knowledge work practice. These understandings can inform insightful models and design concepting, which can in turn illuminate where an application could provide appropriate and desirable value in workers’ experiences. The ideas in this category describe the potential importance of investigating workers’ physical and socio-cultural environments; determining tasks and larger activities that are conducive to mediation with computing tools; and supporting specialized needs related to emergent work, collaborative work, and individual, localized practices. Category B, “Defining interaction objects,” contains ten ideas that can help product teams envision clear, understandable onscreen entities for knowledge workers to act on and with in order to accomplish their goals. The ideas in this category highlight the potential importance of interaction objects’ definitions, identification, associations, states, flagged variability, ownership, relationships to specific interactions, and templates. Category C, “Establishing an application framework,” contains ten ideas that can help product teams envision consistent, understandable application concepts that envelope and organize various functionalities for mediating work. The ideas in this category highlight the importance of applications’ conceptual models, interaction models, differing levels of interaction patterns, navigation pathways, identity tailored views, states, and other overarching, “structural” considerations.
Category D, “Considering workers’ attentions,” contains seven ideas that can help product teams envision functionality concepts that effectively account for the strengths, limitations, expectations, and customs associated with workers’ attentions. Teams can refer to this section when envisioning how their applications might support users’ desires to remain productively focused on their chosen vocations. The ideas in this category highlight the potential importance of tempos of work, expected effort, opportunity costs, distraction, engagement, resuming work, alerts functionality, the development of habit and automaticity, and other attentional considerations. Category E, “Providing opportunities to offload effort,” contains six ideas that can help product teams to envision functionality concepts that could reduce unwanted knowledge work effort while at the same time keeping workers in the seat of control. The ideas in this category highlight the potential importance of offloading memory burdens; automating appropriate operations, tasks, and activities; allowing workers to maintain an internal locus of control; and providing meaningful visibility into the internal workings of automation. Category F, “Enhancing information representation,” contains eleven ideas that can help product teams envision how systems of tailored and interactive information representations could provide value in targeted knowledge work practices. The ideas in this category highlight the potential importance of representational coordination, genre, novelty, relationships, transformation, and interpretation aids, as well as some specific categories of information display. Category G, “Clarifying central interactions,” contains seven ideas that can help product teams successfully envision key interaction scenarios while fleshing out sketches of their central functionality concepts. The ideas in this category highlight the potential importance of interactive narrative, clarity around levels of selection, specific instances of error management and workspace awareness, support for impromptu tangents, presentation of relevant supporting information, and transitioning work outcomes from private to public view. Category H, “Supporting outcome exploration and cognitive tracing,” contains four ideas that can help product teams envision support for knowledge workers’ scenario oriented exploration of potential outcomes, as well as historical review of application content. The ideas in this category highlight the potential importance of versioning, undo, action history for interaction objects or functional areas, and private, working annotations. Category I, “Working with volumes of information,” contains seven ideas that can help product teams envision functionality concepts for managing and working with the masses of informa-
tion that are generated by, and referenced throughout, knowledge work activities. The ideas in this category highlight the potential importance of flexible organizing methods; searching, filtering, and sorting application content; handling uncertain data sets; integrating information sources; providing messaging around content updates; and archiving unused yet valued information. Category J, “Facilitating communication,” contains seven ideas that can help product teams envision appropriate support for both implicit and active communication in knowledge work practices. The ideas in this category highlight the potential importance of integrated communication actions, representational common ground, work handoffs, authorship information, features to facilitate contact between workers, public annotation of interaction objects and functional areas, standardized genres of communications, and printing options that can fit workers’ communication needs. Category K, “Promoting integration into work practice,” contains 13 ideas that can help product teams envision application concepts that, beyond branded marketing claims, are intended to unfold as relevant and approachable tools for targeted tasks and larger activities. Teams can also use these ideas to envision extensibility that could allow targeted individuals and organizations to bind new tools to their existing computing systems and customs. The ideas in this category highlight the potential importance of application localization, introductory experiences, early attributions of usefulness, differing design approaches based on frequency of access, carefully considered user assistance, application interoperability and integration, end user programming, credibility of content and processes, and “at hand” application reliability. Category L, “Aiming for aesthetic user experiences,” contains five ideas that can help product teams envision a more enjoyable, appealing, domain appropriate, recognizable, and potentially unique directions for their applications’ aesthetics. The ideas in this category highlight the potential importance of carefully designed knowledge work outputs, meeting or exceeding contemporary aesthetic standards, exploring small but iconic design resemblances to known domain artifacts, pursuing clear illustration content and direct branding, and considering iconoclastic aesthetics directions. Category M, “Planning connection with use,” contains four ideas that can help product teams envision ways to anticipate, learn from, and support the real world use of their computing tools. The ideas in this category highlight the potential importance of having early and iterative conversations with targeted knowledge workers, supporting system champions that could advance product adoption, fostering and learning from application user
communities, and considering the potential for unanticipated uses of technological options, long before their implementation has begun.
Published on Jan 13, 2010
Working through Screens: 100 Ideas for Envisioning Powerful, Engaging, and Productive User Experiences in Knowledge Work This heavily illus...