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F. Enhancing Information Representation Valued computing tools can represent information in concise and tailored ways that are well suited to knowledge workers’ goals and mental models. Designing such useful representations requires a deliberate understanding of how people might understand and act upon content. During application envisioning, product teams can critically examine how information is currently represented, looking for opportunities to display important content in enhanced or even transformative ways. By taking time to generate diverse ideas for their product’s information displays, teams can situate new and existing content in comprehensible views that ease navigation burdens and make complex conclusions perceptually clear.


Recorded information, whether inside or outside of an interactive application, exists in specific representational forms. A plain page filled with uniform text is one such form, along with any number of other textual layouts, tables, maps, and graphs. As workers repeatedly create, act with, act on, and communicate through certain representational forms, these standards can become powerful cultural conventions that define and direct shared approaches to thinking within local communities of practice or the entirety of a profession. Some representational forms can facilitate specific cognitive transformations and work practices better than others. As Herbert Simon wrote, “solving a problem simply means representing it so as to make the solution transparent.” Poor representational alignment can interfere with accomplishment, requiring additional thought and action. Manually creating some representations can require considerable effort — calculating values, laying out a document space, plotting points, filling in areas. By comparison, interactive applications can make generating standard representational forms nearly effortless for their users, opening up opportunities for the rapid exploration of novel perspectives on selected information sets. This category contains 11 of the 100 application envisioning ideas in this book: F1. Coordinated representational elements F2. Established genres of information representation F3. Novel information representations F4. Support for visualization at different levels F5. Comparative representations F6. Instrumental results representations F7. Highly functional tables F8. Representational transformations F9. Simultaneous or sequential use of representations F10. Symbolic visual languages F11. Representational codes and context Product teams can use these ideas to explore a range of concepts for mediating work practices through the dynamic generation and use of different types of information representation. These ideation efforts may help teams to emphasize the importance of existing representational forms or to uncover valuable opportunities for representational innovation. Concepting focused on representation can also allow teams to consider meaningful extensions and interactive transformations of certain information displays, with the goal of further tailoring them toward meaningful ways of thinking and acting. The central notion of this category is most closely related to the “Exploring work mediation and determining scope” (A), “Defining interaction objects” (B), “Facilitating communication” (J), and “Aiming for aesthetic user experiences” (L) categories.

Working through Screens (Tabloid Size)  

Working through Screens: 100 Ideas for Envisioning Powerful, Engaging, and Productive User Experiences in Knowledge Work This heavily illus...