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F9. Simultaneous or Sequential Use of Representations Knowledge workers may use more than one information representation, of the same or different content, to accomplish certain operations or larger tasks. To support workers’ abilities to meaningfully act from the context of different data perspectives, product teams can envision concepts that present certain displays in parallel or allow for rapid switching between related views.

People talk about ge�ng overloaded with too much informa�on, but I like to have the op�on of seeing a lot of different kinds of data at the same �me...

Examples from three knowledge work domains: A financial trader selects a single offer from a table in his trading application, then opts to view a large display of historical graphs related to the offer. Since the proposed deal does not look advantageous, he moves on. To browse potential deals more effectively, he sets up his screens to view the application’s large table of offers and some related graphs at the same time so that he can quickly investigate historical data for each proposal that he selects (see illustration).

Financial Trader


How might close onscreen relationships between coordinated displays of information provide value in the knowledge work practices that your team is striving to mediate? What sequential or simultaneous arrangements of content in your application concepts could allow targeted workers to more easily see key relationships or interact through them more directly? More specific questions for product teams to consider while envisioning applications for knowledge work: What types of information artifacts are currently used in conjunction with each other in targeted tasks and larger activities? When and how do workers use coordinated aspects of these artifacts in parallel or in sequences? What value do these connectivities provide? How might your team use these understandings to envision useful possibilities for relationships between views in your sketched application directions?

An architect is tasked with checking the lighting modifications that a consultant just completed. She supplements the main 3D visualization in her building modeling application with a floor plan that highlights all lighting elements, as well as a table that lists all of the lighting fixtures in the current design and their linked product specifications.

I’m turning on some graphs here to see what’s going on with this poten�al deal...

What larger design and technology trends could influence your ideas about how information representations could be displayed in conjunction with one another in your computing tool?

A scientist switches between different visualizations in her analysis application, some of which she rarely uses, hoping to unexpectedly discover some insight about a small but interesting collection of samples within a large clinical data set.

No dice here...

How might your team’s ideas for novel data views be used in conjunction with more established representations of domain content?

Some knowledge work tasks or larger activities can require, or at least benefit from, the use of multiple, coordinated representations (A5, F1). Workers may act on and through a number of different types of information at the same time, each in their own tailored format. Additionally, people may find value in viewing multiple perspectives on the same content, or the same type of content, potentially at different levels of detail (F4). Interactive applications can facilitate representational juxtapositions that workers currently find valuable while at the same time opening up opportunities to quickly view information from more orientations. Product teams can envision application concepts that could dynamically display multiple views of stored content in meaningful configurations (E3, E4). They can also sketch default arrangements and sequences of information displays that could simplify common scenarios in workers’ practices (A4, K6). Where additional flexibility may be useful or required (A9, F8), teams can consider customization options for tailoring onscreen perspectives in support of specific motivations and constraints (A8, C8, E6, M4). When product teams do not actively consider how knowledge workers might simultaneously view and transition through multiple information representations, opportunities to promote valuable coordinations, interaction efficiencies (C4, G2), and insights across views can be lost. Important representations may become isolated in limiting and fixed frames, potentially leading to user frustration (D2, D3, D4), increased memory burdens (E1, E2), and excess printing (J7). See also: A, C, F, G5, H, I, J2

How might related displays be meaningfully sequenced? What dynamic pathways could link and bridge higher level views of application content with known and established lower level views?

And I’ve got a lot of other messages to go through, so I’m going to close down this middle column of details for the �me being...

How might interactive transitions between your sketched views promote certain types of clarity and meaning? How could these navigation actions draw perceptual linkages that may enhance coordinations in users’ efforts? What implications might your ideas about relating various information representations have on the overarching frameworks of your application concepts? At what point might targeted individuals perceive new display functionalities as being too complex for their own work practices? How might your application concepts retain a refined clarity and appropriate levels of simplicity? How could your computing tool introduce and frame the value of multiple views of application content? What instruction and initial scaffolding might be useful while individuals are learning to use these new display possibilities?

So now I can just look at specific messages and their graphed data, which feels faster some�mes...

How might your team’s ideas for simultaneous and sequential representations relate to your other design responses for supporting work in the context of volumes of information? 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: 100 Ideas for Envisioning Powerful, Engaging, and Productive User Experiences in Knowledge Work This heavily illus...