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100 APPLICATION ENVISIONING IDEAS | F. ENHANCING INFORMATION REPRESENTATION

WORKING THROUGH SCREENS

F3. Novel Information Representations Interactive applications can aggregate and display stored data in new ways that are highly useful and meaningful in knowledge work. Within their broader ideas about the advancement of targeted work practices, product teams can identify and explore potential opportunities for new representations of information.

So I am concerned that some areas in this building model are more conten�ous than they need to be...

Examples from three knowledge work domains: An architect uses a special view in her building modeling application to see what changes have been made to a project over time. The view colors regions of the building model based on how frequently they have been modified. It also provides a timeline slider that allows her to navigate through different versions of the design (see illustration). A scientist finds that her analysis application includes both representations that are common to her clinical research field and interesting new visualizations that she is not familiar with. After “filling” the new representations with recent data from her lab, she immediately sees their relevance to her work. A financial trader uses a new interactive graphic in his market information application to view advancing and declining market sectors. Adopting computing into an activity often means making sense of new forms of visual information. Some established representational needs (F2) may be better met by information formats that are more suitable to onscreen display. Existing representational genres may not scale to adequately present the volumes of content that can arise when mediating work with onscreen applications (F4, I). Beyond these drivers, the introduction of computing power into work can itself open up possibilities for meaningful innovation through the automated generation of complex representational forms (E3, E4). Product teams can envision innovative representations that are tailored to people’s motivations in specific tasks or larger activities. Commonly used representations can be made novel through useful extensions and modifications, potentially for the sake of clearer coordination with other data views (F1). Teams can also introduce novel representations from other domains by making lateral jumps to tangentially related genres based on similarities in purpose, contents, and usage (A, F11).

See also: C3, F, G2, H, L5, K5, K7, M4

How might any deficiencies in current information representations suggest opportunities for representing application content in new ways? What compelling opportunities for representational redesign can be found in your team’s sketched functionality concepts? What might these new displays look like, and how could they provide sufficient value to justify knowledge workers learning to use them? More specific questions for product teams to consider while envisioning applications for knowledge work:

Architect

What existing information representations currently lead to breakdowns in the work practices that your team is striving to mediate? Could these problems present opportunities for your product? Which established representations may not translate well into your application concepts or, more generally, a computer screen?

So I’m opening a view that allows me to see what has changed over �me and to look back at quick snapshots of old versions of the model...

Which novel work situations within your sketched functionality concepts could be made clearer, less effortful, less prone to error, and otherwise more effective with new representational formats? How might the aggregation of large volumes of application content suggest opportunities for new representational “containers” that are tailored to meet unaddressed, often higher level, goals? What larger design and technology trends could influence your ideas about how information in your application concepts could be valuably represented? What innovative representations of data, whether radically redesigned or entirely novel, might your team sketch as valuable additions to targeted work practices?

I can immediately see that there have been a lot of changes to the foyer area of the design, which the client has been driving with their requests...

Based on your understanding of workers’ goals, their current usage of representations, and other factors, what analogous displays from other domains could be applicable to your envisioned computing tool? How might new forms of representation be usefully and meaningfully coordinated with other information in your application concepts? How might certain interactions with novel displays promote emotional responses that are conducive to attentive, focused thinking?

When product teams do not actively consider the potential role of novel information representations within their concepts for work mediation, opportunities to reduce or desirably transform cognitive effort (E), as well as promote new types of goal oriented understanding, can be lost. Conversely, established genres of information representation should often be respected as the formats that knowledge workers believe to be the most appropriate for accomplishing their goals (K3, K12). Professionals have often developed extensive skills around the use of existing representations (D7, K6), which may prevent them from seeing value in new approaches (K2). Without a corresponding understanding of their advantages and interpretation, people may perceive novel information displays as being arbitrary and misguided.

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What are targeted workers’ initial impressions of your team’s sketches of novel information representations? How might their perceptions change after more thorough consideration and interaction? And that we have maybe been fussing too much about some other details when our �me could be be�er spent on more important factors in the design, which is always a tough balance...

How could your computing tool introduce and frame the value of its novel representations? What instruction and initial scaffolding might be useful? What impact might the inclusion of new information representations have on design strategy and brand? What could it mean, in a bigger picture sense, to “disruptively advance” knowledge work in your targeted markets? 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?

Working through Screens (Tabloid Size)  
Working through Screens (Tabloid Size)  

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

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