100 APPLICATION ENVISIONING IDEAS | F. ENHANCING INFORMATION REPRESENTATION
WORKING THROUGH SCREENS
F1. Coordinated Representational Elements Elements within and between information representations can have coordinated facets, reducing efforts that would otherwise be needed to usefully bring them into alignment as part of certain operations or larger tasks. Product teams can envision coordinations that could transform effortful mental work into visual judgments and direct manipulations of interrelated external artifacts.
What mental transformations and artifactual alignments do knowledge workers frequently employ in order to manipulate information in goal directed ways? What concepts might your team generate to implicitly coordinate certain meaningfully related elements in your sketched information representations? How might individuals create their own coordinations in the context of your computing tool while performing targeted work practices?
I was just sent a big set of data by a colleague, and I’ve imported it into my analysis applica�on to look for interes�ng ﬁndings...
Examples from three knowledge work domains: A scientist intuitively transforms a view of clinical data in her analysis application. She gives no consideration to the elegant means by which each transformation stays in synch with other onscreen views, saving her the effort of having to think through and manually navigate these relationships (see illustration). An architect finds it easy to use printouts from her building modeling application in conjunction with the same building model on her screen. Both the printed and onscreen versions provide the same aligning features, allowing for quick orientation and comparison. A financial trader views information in his trading application and his market information application at the same time. He changes the date ranges in each tool to the same interval so that he can “eyeball” relationships between the displays.
Now I’m se�ng up some connected visualiza�ons before diving in to see what I can ﬁnd...
When product teams do not actively consider how specific elements of information representations might be coordinated inside and around their sketched application concepts, opportunities to support or positively transform the nature of certain work practices can be lost. When teams overlook coordinations that are currently in use, workers may find resulting tools to be disruptive and frustrating, creating new efforts that were not previously necessary (D3, F11). Teams may also overlook opportunities for novel coordinations with other elements in workers’ representational environs (A1), whether internally, within a product’s own functionalities, (C4, F9) or externally, with other artifacts, both onscreen and off. See also: B3, F, G5, I, J6, J7, K5, K6, K13
More specific questions for product teams to consider while envisioning applications for knowledge work: What coordinations within and between information representations, or between certain representations and their larger contexts, do people currently use as part of the work practices that your team is striving to mediate? What value do current coordinations provide to targeted individuals and organizations? What functional role do these existing alignments play? What problems do they solve? Which coordinations have become established elements of routine operations and larger tasks? Which are typically more impromptu and variable? What issues can arise due to representational discoordinations? Could these problems present opportunities for your team’s product?
As human beings, we are skilled at making use of and constructing the world around us to enhance our ability to perform complex mental activities (A). Using these skills, knowledge workers often come to understand how different types of information representations “fit” together (B1, F1), providing opportunities to reduce effort (E) and attentional demands (D) in their work. While people must themselves make coordinations a useful reality in their own practices (A6, A7, A8), product teams can envision how their interactive applications might promote specific threads of meaningful representational connection. These coordinations can transform work by modifying or removing specific mental transformations (D2), changing the nature of, or potentially eliminating, entire operations or larger tasks. In addition to reducing individuals’ workloads in valuable ways, clear representational coordinations can also enhance communication and collaboration (C7, G4, J2). After extensive use, workers may become so accustomed to certain facets being coordinated that these relationships may fade from thought, even as valuable linkages are frequently exploited (D4, D7).
Which existing coordinations will probably not be necessary in the context of your computing tool? Which might become more important?
And each visualiza�on stays in synch with the others as I make diﬀerent selec�ons, showing the same highlighted info in each of these views...
How might your team incorporate the valuable intents behind existing coordinations into your sketched application concepts? What characteristics of earlier representational forms and interactions could be meaningfully preserved in your product? What new coordinations might you envision to offload effort and clarify relationships in the context of your sketched functionality offerings? What interaction and visual design responses could draw attention to and perceptually enhance certain coordinations? How might your application concepts present “by design” layout consistencies that users could intuitively act within, rather than having to consciously expend effort in order to align certain representational facets?
And the diﬀerent views visually line up with each other automa�cally so I don’t even have to think about connec�ng them together...
How might workers create their own representational coordiations by rearranging or reclassifying information within your application concepts? How could the outputs of your team’s computing tool retain useful alignments with onscreen instantiations of the same stored content? How might representational coordinations play a role in targeted worker’s cooperation, collaboration, and communication practices? Do you have enough information to usefully answer these and other envisioning questions? What additional research, problem space models, and design concepting could valuably inform your team’s application envisioning efforts?
Published on Jan 13, 2010
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