WORKING THROUGH SCREENS100 ideas for envisioning 143 page .pdf / 11’’X17” Application Concepting Series No. 1powerful, engaging, and productive With over 100 Illustrations, including examples from architecture, Also available in .htmluser experiences clinical research, and financial trading. and “Idea Cards” formats at www.FlashbulbInteraction.com By Jacob Burghardtin knowledge work A publication of FLASHBULB INTERACTION, Inc.
FRONT MATTER | FRAMING THE PROBLEM WORKING THROUGH SCREENS 2 The category of human efforts sometimes called “knowledge work” is growing. Knowledge workers are valued for their specialized intellectual skills and their ability to act on and with complex information in goal oriented ways. In many contexts, the idea of knowledge work has become almost synonymous with using a computer, to both positive and negative effect. Product teams creating computing tools for specialized workers struggle to understand what is needed and to successfully satisfy a myriad of constraints. As a result of the design deﬁciencies in these interactive products, people experience many frustrations in their working lives. Noticeable deﬁciencies, along with the ones that have invisibly become the status quo, can lower the quality and quantity of workers’ desired outputs. With so many people in front of so many screens — attempting to practice their chosen professions — these deﬁciencies have real costs.
FRONT MATTER | FRAMING THE PROBLEM WORKING THROUGH SCREENS 3 Needed Mismatched Hard Overly ﬂexible Typical Awkwardly dynamic Inconsistent Distracting Boring Circuitous Replaceable + + + ++ + + + + + + +
FRONT MATTER | FRAMING THE PROBLEM WORKING THROUGH SCREENS 4 Collectively, we have an infrastructural sense of what these technologies can + be that tends to limit our ability to imagine better offerings. Targeted improvements in the design of these tools can have large impacts on workers’ experiences. Visionary design can advance entire ﬁelds and industries. At a basic level, applications can “ﬁt” the working cultures that they are designed for, rather than forcing unwanted changes in established activities. They can augment rather than redeﬁne. When workers alter their culture to adopt a new computing tool, it can be solely because that tool provides new meaning and value in their practices. Going further, elegantly designed applications can become a joy to use, providing an empowering, connective sense of direct action and a pleasing sensory environment for people to think “within.” Product teams can make signiﬁcant progress toward these aims by changing how they get started on designing their products — by beginning with an emphasis on getting to the right design strategy and design concepts long before getting to the right design details. It is time to start holistically envisioning exemplary new tools for thought that target valuable intersections of work activity and technological possibility.
FRONT MATTER | FRAMING THE PROBLEM WORKING THROUGH SCREENS 5 Wanted Meaningful Engaging Clearly targeted Extraordinary Eye opening Dependable activity infrastructure Domain grounded Mastery building Irreplaceable Beautiful + ++ + + ++ + + +++ +
FRONT MATTER | PROPOSED HIGH LEVEL APPROACH WORKING THROUGH SCREENS 6 Suggestions for product teams: Extensive concepting, Deliberately spend more time envisioning, at a high level, what your interactive application could be and how it could become valued infrastructure in work activities. based on intensive Do not assume that a compelling knowledge work tool will arise solely questioning, from the iterative aggregation of many discrete decisions during the long haul of a product development process. driving visionary, Create a divergent ecosystem of concepts for your product’s big picture collaboratively and primary experiences. deﬁned strategies Examine the potential value of reusing expected design conventions — for exemplary tools while at the same time ideating potential departures and differentiated offerings. for thought. Explore a breadth of directions and strategies before choosing a course. Plan on staying true to the big ideas imbedded in the concepts that your team selects, while knowing that those ideas will evolve along the way to becoming a reality.
FRONT MATTER | PROPOSED HIGH LEVEL APPROACH WORKING THROUGH SCREENS 7 Extensive concepting, Suggestions for product teams: Ask more envisioning questions, both within your team and within your targeted markets. based on intensive questioning, Develop empathy for knowledge workers by going into the ﬁeld to inform your notions of what your product could become. Stimulate conversations with this book and other sources relevant to driving visionary, the topic of mediating knowledge work with technology. collaboratively Find and explore situations that are analogous to the work practices deﬁned strategies that your team is targeting. for exemplary tools Keep asking questions until you uncover driving factors that resonate. for thought. Create visual models of them. Focus your team on these shared kernels of understanding and insight. Lay the groundwork for inspiration.
FRONT MATTER | PROPOSED HIGH LEVEL APPROACH WORKING THROUGH SCREENS 8 Extensive concepting, Suggestions for product teams: Use design thinking to expand upon and transform your product’s based on intensive high level mandates and strategy. questioning, Continually explore the strategic implications of your team’s most inspiring ideas about mediating knowledge work. driving visionary, Make projections and connections in the context of key trends and collaboratively today’s realities. deﬁned strategies Think end to end, as if your product was a service, either literally or in spirit. for exemplary tools Build and extend brands based on the user experiences that your for thought. team is striving to make possible — and how your product will deliver on those promises. Envision what knowledge workers want and need but do not articulate when confronted with a blank canvas or a legacy of unsatisfactory tools. Invite workers to be your collaborators, maintaining a healthy level of humility in the face of their expertise.
FRONT MATTER | PROPOSED HIGH LEVEL APPROACH WORKING THROUGH SCREENS 9 Extensive concepting, Suggestions for product teams: Dive into the speciﬁc cognitive challenges of knowledge workers’ based on intensive practices in order to uncover new sources of product meaning questioning, and value. Set higher goals for users’ experiences. driving visionary, collaboratively Envision “ﬂashbulb interactions” in targeted activities — augmenting deﬁned strategies interactions that could make complex conclusions clear or open new vistas of thought. Explore how carefully designed stimuli and behaviors within onscreen for exemplary tools tools might promote emotional responses that are conducive to attentive, focused thinking. for thought. Surpass workers’ expectations for the potential role of computing in their mental lives. Raise the bar in your targeted markets, and with it, the bar for all knowledge work tools.
FRONT MATTER | PROPOSED HIGH LEVEL APPROACH WORKING THROUGH SCREENS 10 Extensive concepting, based on intensive + questioning, driving visionary, collaboratively deﬁned strategies for exemplary tools for thought. This phrase embodies a suggested overall approach for product teams envisioning new or improved interactive applications for knowledge work. In support of this suggested approach, this book contains 100 ideas — along with many examples and questions — to help product teams generate design strategies and design concepts that could become useful, meaningful, and valuable onscreen offerings.
FRONT MATTER WORKING THROUGH SCREENSTable of Contents 11Preface 12 D. CONSIDERING WORKERS’ ATTENTIONS 55 I. WORKING WITH VOLUMES OF INFORMATION _95 Glossary 136 D1. Respected tempos of work 56 I1. Flexible informa)on organiza)on _96 Introduc)on: The case for Applicaon Envisioning 13 D2. Expected eﬀort 57 I2. Comprehensive and relevant search _97 Bibliography 139 D3. Current workload, priority of work, and 58 I3. Powerful ﬁltering and sor)ng _98 Primer on example knowledge work domains 20 opportunity costs I4. Uncertain or missing content _99 About the author + D4. Minimizing distrac)on and fostering concentra)on 59 I5. Integra)on of informa)on sources 100 FLASHBULB INTERACTION, Inc. 142 D5. Resuming work 60 I6. Explicit messaging for informa)on updates 101 D6. Aler)ng and reminding cues 61 I7. Archived informa)on 102A. EXPLORING WORK MEDIATION AND 23 D7. Eventual habit and automa)city 62 DETERMINING SCOPE A1. Inﬂuen)al physical and cultural environments 24 J. FACILITATING COMMUNICATION 103 A2. Workers’ interrela)ons and rela)onships 25 E. PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES TO OFFLOAD EFFORT 63 J1. Integral communica)on pathways 104 A3. Work prac)ces appropriate for computer media)on 26 E1. Oﬄoading long term memory eﬀort 64 J2. Representa)onal common ground 105 A4. Standardiza)on of work prac)ce through media)on 27 E2. Oﬄoading short term memory eﬀort 65 J3. Explicit work handoﬀs 106 A5. Interrela)ons of opera)on, task, and ac)vity scenarios 28 E3. Automa)on of low level opera)ons 66 J4. Authorship awareness, presence, and contact 107 A6. Open and emergent work scenarios 29 E4. Automa)on of task or ac)vity scenarios 67 facilita)on A7. Collabora)on scenarios and varia)ons 30 E5. Visibility into automa)on 68 J5. Public annota)on 108 A8. Local prac)ces and scenario varia)ons 31 E6. Internal locus of control 69 J6. Streamlined standard communica)ons 109 A9. High value ra)o for targeted work prac)ces 32 J7. Pervasive prin)ng 110 F. ENHANCING INFORMATION REPRESENTATION 70 B. DEFINING INTERACTION OBJECTS 33 F1. Coordinated representa)onal elements 71 K. PROMOTING INTEGRATION INTO WORK PRACTICE 111 B1. Named objects and informa)on structures 34 F2. Established genres of informa)on representa)on 72 K1. Applica)on localiza)on 112 B2. Flexible iden)ﬁca)on of object instances 35 F3. Novel informa)on representa)ons 73 K2. Introductory user experience 113 B3. Coupling of applica)on and real world objects 36 F4. Support for visualiza)on at diﬀerent levels 74 K3. Recognizable applicability to targeted work 114 B4. Object associa)ons and user deﬁned objects 37 F5. Compara)ve representa)ons 75 K4. Veriﬁca)on of opera)on 115 B5. Object states and ac)vity ﬂow visibility 38 F6. Instrumental results representa)ons 76 K5. Understanding and reframing alternate interpreta)ons 116 B6. Flagged variability within or between objects 39 F7. Highly func)onal tables 77 K6. Design for frequency of access and skill acquisi)on 117 B7. Object ownership and availability rules 40 F8. Representa)onal transforma)ons 78 K7. Clear and comprehensive instruc)onal assistance 118 B8. Explicit mapping of objects to work media)on 41 F9. Simultaneous or sequen)al use of representa)ons 79 K8. Seamless inter‐applica)on interac)vity 119 B9. Common management ac)ons for objects 42 F10. Symbolic visual languages 80 K9. Directed applica)on interopera)on 120 B10. Object templates 43 F11. Representa)onal codes and context 81 K10. Openness to applica)on integra)on and extension 121 K11. End user programming 122 K12. Trusted and credible processes and content 123 C. ESTABLISHING AN APPLICATION FRAMEWORK 44 G. CLARIFYING CENTRAL INTERACTIONS 82 K13. Reliable and direct ac)vity infrastructure 124 C1. Inten)onal and ar)culated conceptual models 45 G1. Narra)ve experiences 83 C2. Applica)on interac)on model 46 G2. Levels of selec)on and ac)on scope 84 C3. Levels of interac)on paZerns 47 G3. Error preven)on and handling in individual interac)ons 85 L. PURSUING AESTHETIC REFINEMENT 125 C4. Pathways for task and ac)vity based wayﬁnding 48 G4. Workspace awareness embedded in interac)ons 86 L1. High quality and appealing work products 126 C5. Permissions and views tailored to workers’ iden))es 49 G5. Impromptu tangents and juxtaposi)ons 87 L2. Contemporary applica)on aesthe)cs 127 C6. Standardized applica)on workﬂows 50 G6. Contextual push of related informa)on 88 L3. Iconic design resemblances within applica)ons 128 C7. Structural support of workspace awareness 51 G7. Transi)oning work from private to public view 89 L4. Appropriate use of imagery and direct branding 129 C8. Defaults, customiza)on, and automated tailoring 52 L5. Iconoclas)c product design 130C9. Error preven)on and handling conven)ons 53 C10. Predictable applica)on states 54 H. SUPPORTING OUTCOME EXPLORATION AND 90 COGNITIVE TRACING M. PLANNING CONNECTION WITH USE 131 H1. Ac)ve versioning 91 M1. Itera)ve conversa)ons with knowledge workers 132 H2. Extensive and reconstruc)ve undo 92 M2. System champions 133 H3. Automated historical records and versions 93 M3. Applica)on user communi)es 134 H4. Working annota)ons 94 M4. Unan)cipated uses of technology 135
FRONT MATTER WORKING THROUGH SCREENSPreface 12When I started the wri)ng that eventually resulted in this book, opportuni)es to truly tailor technologies to important ac)vi)es. )on nearly always passes too quickly. DedicationI was driven by a convic)on that some cri)cal conversa)ons Highly trained individuals, working in their chosen professions, seemed to be missing from the development of new technolo‐ commonly spend unnecessary eﬀort ac)ng “on” and “around” Listening to other prac))oners in the ﬁeld, I know that I am not This book is for my grandfather, William Wolfram, who believed gies for knowledge workers. poorly conceived tools, rather than “through” them. The toll on alone in making these observa)ons and facing these challenges. that the nature of work was changing into something very performance and work outcomes resul)ng from these extra ef‐ And yet, when it comes to accessible, prac))oner oriented ref‐ diﬀerent than what he had experienced at sea, in the ﬁelds, I kept returning to the same four observa)ons about how many forts can be dras)c to individual workers, but since it is diﬃcult erences on these topics, there seems to be large areas of empty and on assembly lines — and strongly encouraged me to real world product teams operate: to collec)vely recognize and quan)fy, the aggregate of these space wai)ng to be ﬁlled. explore what it might mean. losses remains largely undetected within organiza)ons, profes‐ 1. Many product teams overlook common needs that sions, industries, and economies. This book is a foray into part of that empty space. The 100 ideas knowledge workers have of their onscreen tools while at contained within can act as shared probes for product teams the same )me developing unneeded func)onality. These I believe that current deﬁciencies in technologies for knowledge to use in forma)ve discussions that set the overall direc)on Acknowledgements teams start with a seemingly blank slate, even when work are strongly )ed to our oken low expecta)ons of what it and priori)es of new or itera)vely improved applica)ons for many valuable product requirements could be explored can mean to support complicated ac)vi)es with compu)ng. Our thinking work. As a collec)on, these ideas present a suppor)ng Since this book feels more like a synthesis with a par)cular based on exis)ng, proven understandings of how com‐ shared ideas of what cons)tutes innova)on in this space have, framework for teams striving to see past unsa)sfactory, “busi‐ perspec)ve than a completely original work, I would like to pu)ng tools can valuably support knowledge work. in many cases, become )ghtly constrained by our infrastruc‐ ness as usual” technologies in order to create compelling and empha)cally thank the authors of all the publica)ons that are tural sense of what these technologies can and should be. Too meaningful tools for knowledge workers at the forefronts of included in the bibliography. I would par)cularly like to thank 2. Many product teams’ everyday yet pivotal deﬁni)on oken, we are not seeing the proverbial forest due to our shared their ﬁelds. William Lidwell, Katrina Holden, and Jill Butler — the authors of and design conversa)ons do not suﬃciently consider focus on a small grove of trees. In our cultural accommoda)on Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, knowledge workers’ thought processes or how a tech‐ to what compu)ng has come to “mean” in our working lives, it I look forward to hearing about how these ideas hold up in Inﬂuence Percepon, Increase Appeal, Make BeDer Design nology might inﬂuence them. While individuals in these seems that we may have lost some of our capacity for visionary the context of your own product development challenges. My Decisions, and Teach through Design — which was a key teams may occasionally use terminology borrowed from thinking. sincere hope is that this book provides some measure of inspira‐ inspira)on for the format of this work. cogni)ve psychology, the actual details of how a tool )on that leads you to envision tools that promote more pow‐ could meaningfully impact “thinking work” may not To regain this vision, product teams can spend more )me con‐ erful, engaging, and produc)ve user experiences. Knowledge The following reviewers have provided invaluable comments on receive more than a surface examina)on. sidering what it might actually take to support and build upon workers — those who will opportunis)cally make use of the various draks of this publica)on: Liberty Harrington, Kris)na 3. Many product teams struggle to understand the knowledge workers’ skills and abili)es. Gelng inside of these fruits of your eﬀorts, if you are fortunate — deserve no less. Voros, Amii LaPointe, Myer Harrell, Aaron Louie, Brian Kuan knowledge work that they are striving to support. Even essen)al problems can require teams to adopt goals that are Wood, Jessica Burghardt, MaZ Carthum, MaZ Turpin, Miles when some of a team’s members have a strong empathy more like those of the pioneers of interac)ve compu)ng, who Jacob Burghardt Hunter, Julianne Bryant, Eric Klein, Chris Ziobro, Jon Fukuda, for targeted work prac)ces, teams as a whole can have were driven by the poten)al for augmen)ng human capabili)es 1 Nov 2008, SeaZle, WA and Judy Ramey. mixed levels of success meaningfully transla)ng their with new technologies. When teams extend these pioneering E ‐ info@FlashbulbInterac)on.com cumula)ve understanding into overall models of how ideas by applying them at the intersec)on of speciﬁc ac)vi)es P ‐ 206.280.3135 I would also like to thank understanding friends who spend their tool could valuably mediate certain ac)vi)es. These and working cultures, they can discover a similar spirit of con‐ long, internally mo)vated, solitary hours working on personal shared models, when executed well, can guide the deﬁni‐ sidered inquiry and explora)on. pursuits. You made this project seem not only possible, but like )on and development of a product’s many par)culars. a good idea. Without them, resul)ng applica)ons can become direct Higher order goals — aimed at crea)ng tools for thought to reﬂec)ons of a team’s lack of guiding focus. be used in targeted work prac)ces, coopera)ve contexts, and technological environments — can lead product teams to ask 4. Many product teams begin construc)on of ﬁnal very diﬀerent ques)ons than those that they currently explore products with very limited no)ons of what their ﬁnished Publication Information during early product development. Through the cri)cal lens product will be. Whether uninten)onally or inten)onally, of these elevated goals, the four observa)ons listed above can based on prevailing ideologies, they do not develop a truly take on the appearance of lost opportuni)es for innova‐ Working through Screens is the inaugural publica)on of robust design strategy for their applica)on, let alone con‐ )on and product success. FLASHBULB INTERACTION, Inc. sider divergent high level approaches in order to create a compelling applica)on concept. Instead, they seem to I have personally experienced these lost opportuni)es in my This book is available for free in .html and .pdf at assume that useful, usable, and desirable products arise own career researching and designing knowledge work tools www.FlashbulbInterac)on.com, where you can also ﬁnd an solely from the itera)ve sum of many small deﬁni)on, for domains such as life science, ﬁnancial trading, and graphic abbreviated “Idea Cards” version designed for use in design, and implementa)on decisions. design, among others. Even with the best inten)ons, in 20/20 product idea)on exercises. hindsight, I did not always have )me to think through and apply These observa)ons would not carry much weight if it was some important ideas — ideas that could have improved prod‐ All original contents of this publica)on are subject to the not for the current state of compu)ng tools that are available ucts’ design strategies and, in the end, enhanced workers’ user crea)ve commons license (AZribu)on‐NonCommercial‐ to knowledge workers in many voca)ons. Put simply, these experiences. There are simply so many useful ideas for these ShareAlike hZp://crea)vecommons.org/licenses/by‐nc‐sa/3.0/) products oken contain vast room for improvement, especially complex, mul)faceted problems, and under the demands of real unless otherwise noted. Please aZribute the work to in highly specialized forms of work, where there are concrete world product development, )me for ques)oning and explora‐ “Jacob Burghardt / FLASHBULB INTERACTION Consultancy.”
FRONT MATTER WORKING THROUGH SCREENSIntroduction: The Case for Application Envisioning 13The Experience of Modern Knowledge Work A scien(st sorts through the results of a recent clinical Direct alignment with an augmen)ng tool can cause surprising can be more eﬀec)vely accomplished outside of the study using an analysis applica)on that automa)cally joy, or at least a sort of transparent, “on to the next thing” sense conﬁnes of a computer.In a growing number of contemporary workplaces, people are generates clear and manipulable visualiza)ons of large of success. Individuals and organiza)ons can place a high value Fail to reﬂect essen(al divisions of how work is seg‐valued for their specialized intellectual skills and their ability data sets. She uses the tool to visually locate interes)ng on useful and usable products that support workers’ limita)ons mented within targeted organiza(ons, forcing unwanted to act on and with complex informa)on in goal oriented ways. trends in the clinical results, narrowing in on unusual while at the same )me enhancing their skills. Truly successful redeﬁni)on of individuals’ roles and responsibili)es and There is a general sense that many types of work are becom‐ categories of data at progressively deeper levels of interac)ve applica)ons can provide users with tailored func)on‐ crea)ng new opportuni)es for day to day errors in ing more abstract, specialized, complex, improvisa)onal, and detail. To beZer understand certain selec)ons within the ality that, among other things, facilitates and enhances certain workers’ prac)ces.cerebral. complex biological informa)on, she downloads related work prac)ces, powerfully removes unwanted eﬀort through reference content from up to date research repositories. automa)on, and generates dynamic displays that make complex Introduce new work processes that standardize ac(vi‐Peter Drucker called the people that engage in these types rela)onships clear. (es in unwelcome ways. When technologies inappropri‐ A ﬁnancial trader works through transac)on aker trans‐of work “Knowledge Workers.” Robert Reich, the former U.S. ately enforce strict workﬂow and cumbersome interac‐ ac)on, examining graphs of key variables and triggering Labor Secretary, used the term “Symbolic Analysts” to describe In short, when interac)ve applica)ons are at their thoughtully )on constraints, these tools can force knowledge workers his trading applica)on to automa)cally accept other a similar category within the workforce. More recently, Richard envisioned best, they can become seemingly indispensable to create and repeatedly enact unnecessarily eﬀortul trades with similar characteris)cs. He uses his market Florida has deﬁned the characteris)cs of “the Crea)ve Class.” in knowledge work. At their most visionary, these tools can workarounds in order to reach desired outcomes. informa)on applica)on to analyze trends so that he can All three of these terms fall within roughly the same frame, em‐ promote user experiences that provide a sense of mastery and make beZer decisions about uncertain and ques)onable Lack clear conceptual models of what they, as tools, phasizing the commonality of inven)ng, producing, interpret‐ direct engagement, the feeling of working through the screen deals. As he barrels through as much work as possible are intended to do, how they essen)ally work, and how ing, manipula)ng, transforming, applying, and communica)ng on informa)on and interac)ve objects that become the almost during his always too short trading day, he values how they can provide value. Inar)culate or counter intui)ve informa)on as principle preoccupa)ons of these workers. palpable subjects of users’ inten)ons. his tools prevent him from making crucial errors while conceptual models, which oken stem from a product permilng him to act rapidly and to great eﬀect. team’s own confusion about what they are crea)ng, can The current experience of this purportedly new work — what it lead workers to develop alternate concep)ons of ap‐feels like to prac)ce a highly trained profession or to simply earn While these short descrip)ons are probably not representa)ve Issues in Contemporary Onscreen Toolsa paycheck — has a very diﬀerent essen)al character than the plica)on processes. These alternate models may in turn of your own day to day ac)vi)es, it may be easy enough for you lead to seemingly undiagnosable errors and underu)lized type of work experiences that were available just a genera)on Unfortunately, many knowledge work products present them‐ to imagine how essen)al interac)ve applica)ons could become func)onality.or two ago. A large part of that change in character is due to the selves as nowhere near their thoughtully envisioned best. in each of these cases. Aker long periods of accommoda)on, extensive use of compu)ng tools in these work prac)ces. Workers too oken ﬁnd that many parts of their specialized Present workers with confusing data structures and accomplishing many knowledge work goals involves turning to a screen, controlling a cursor, entering data, and interac)ng with compu)ng tools are not useful or usable in the context of their representa(ons of informa(on that do not correlate to In essence, the expansion of “knowledge work” as a concept has own goals or the larger systems of cultural meaning and ac)vity the ar)facts that they are used to thinking about in their well known and meaningful representa)ons of informa)on. been closely )ed to the expansion of compu)ng. Interac)ve ap‐ that surround them. Problema)c applica)ons can con)nuously own work prac)ces. To eﬀec)vely use an applica)on built Looking toward future technologies, it is likely that most knowl‐plica)ons have become woven into the fabric of vast territories present workers with confusing and frustra)ng barriers that upon unfamiliar abstrac)ons, workers must repeatedly edge workers will perform at least some of their eﬀorts within of professional ac)vity, and workers are con)nuously adop)ng they must traverse in order to generate useful outcomes. At translate their own domain exper)se to match a system’s the bounds of a similar framework for some )me to come. new tools into previously “oﬄine” areas. Although these tools their poorly envisioned worst, compu)ng tools can — contrary deﬁni)ons. are not the only focal point for knowledge workers, they are to marke)ng claims of advanced u)lity — eﬀec)vely deskill Encourage a sense of informa(on overload by allowing becoming a point of increasing gravity as cultures of prac)ce users by preven)ng them from ac)ng in ways that even remote‐con)nue to co‐evolve with these technologies over )me. The Impacts of Application Design ly resemble their preferred prac)ces. Not exactly the brand individuals and organiza)ons to create and store large promise that anyone has in mind when they start the ball rolling volumes of valuable informa)on without providing them Consider these example experiences, which are part of the The design of these compu)ng tools has the poten)al to make suﬃcient means to organize, visualize, navigate, search on a new technology.working lives of three ﬁc)onal knowledge workers who will massive impacts on working lives. Unless knowledge workers or otherwise make use of it. appear throughout this book: are highly mo)vated early adopters that are willing and able If one was to summarize the status quo, it might sound some‐ Disrupt workers’ a/en(ons, and the essen)al cogni)ve to make use of most anything, their experiences as users of thing like this: when it comes to interac)ve applica)ons for ﬂow of intensive thinking work, with unnecessary An architect considers an alternate placement for an in‐ interac)ve applica)ons can vary dras)cally. These diﬀerences knowledge work, products that are considered essen)al are not content and distrac)ng messaging. terior wall in order to improve the view corridors within in experience can largely depend on the overall alignment of an always sa)sfactory. In fact, they may be deeply ﬂawed in ways a building that she is designing. As she interac)vely individual’s inten)ons and understandings with the speciﬁcs of Require workers to waste eﬀort entering speciﬁcs and that we commonly do not recognize given our current expec‐ visualizes a certain wall placement within a 3D model of a tool’s design. Since the majority of the compu)ng applica)ons “jumping through hoops” that neither they nor their ta)ons of these tools. With our collec)ve sights set low, we the building, she pauses to consider its implica)ons for a in use at the )me of wri)ng were not created by the workers organiza)ons perceive as necessary. overlook many faults. number of the project’s requirements. She saves diﬀer‐ that use them, this means that the product teams develop‐ ing these applica)ons contribute roughly half of this essen)al Force workers to excessively translate their goals into ent versions of her design explora)on, adding working Poorly envisioned knowledge work applica)ons can: alignment between user and compu)ng ar)fact. To restate this the constraints of onscreen interac(on, even aker notes on what she thinks of each design direc)on. Once common premise, “outside” technologists (of the stripe that extended use. All applica)ons require their users to act she has created several diﬀerent direc)ons, she then A/empt to drive types of work onto the screen that are would likely be drawn to reading this book) oken set the stage within the boundaries of their func)onal op)ons, but uses the building modeling applica)on to realis)cally not conducive to being mediated by interac)ve comput‐ for ini)al success or failure in workers’ experiences of their certain constraints on basic ac)ons may be too restric)ve render each possibility, compare them in sequence, and ing as we know it today. New applica)ons and func)onal‐ onscreen tools. and cumbersome. review a subset of design op)ons with her colleagues. i)es are not always the answer, and some work prac)ces
FRONT MATTER | INTRODUCTION WORKING THROUGH SCREENS 14 Introduce automa(on that actually makes work more Making Do with the Status Quo First Steps of Application Design Part of the reason for this jump in collec)ve mindset is an eﬀorIul, rather than less. Without appropriate visibility increase in team size. Lek to their own devices, newly added into an automated rou)ne’s processing, workers can be Since many of today’s applica)ons contain a mixture of both Taking a step back, it can be useful to examine the early, ini)at‐ team members oken gravitate toward the level of granular‐ lek with the diﬃcult challenge of trying to understand clear and direct func)onal op)ons and func)onality that is ing steps that lead to the crea)on of a knowledge work ap‐ ity that is their primary focus during the extended course of what has been automated, if and where problems have frustra)ng, obtuse, and eﬀec)vely useless, knowledge workers plica)on. Plans for a new or revised compu)ng tool can arise product development. To a specialist, this makes perfect sense. occurred, and how to ﬁx important issues. oken become skilled at iden)fying those por)ons of technolo‐ in a variety of ways, though there are some common paZerns These detailed skills are what they are typically valued and gies that demonstrate beneﬁts relevant to their challenges. to their early gesta)ons. In general, a small core of ini)ators promoted for, and their narrow expert perspec)ves are pre‐ Hide useful historical cues about how content came to Individuals tend to weed out problema)c features from their deﬁnes a product’s principle mandates before a broader cross sumably why they are brought onto projects in the ﬁrst place. be in its current state, while preven)ng workers from prac)ces, while at the same )me salvaging tried and true sec)on of team members and disciplines are brought onto a The problem with these assump)ons is that, when gelng into restoring certain informa)on to its earlier incarna)ons. methods. Over )me, the plas)city of mind and culture can dis‐ project. These early conversa)ons may take on very diﬀerent details too soon and too narrowly, specialists’ decisions may Tools without these capabili)es can increase the diﬃ‐ play a remarkable ability to overcome barriers and interweave forms depending on, for example, whether a product represents be under informed and lacking a larger vector of crea)vity and culty of recovering from errors, which can in turn reduce “sa)sﬁced” beneﬁts. Aker considerable eﬀort, established work a disrup)ve technology or a compe))ve entry into an estab‐ guiding constraints. crea)vity and scenario oriented thinking in dynamic arounds and narrow, well worn paths of interac)on can emerge. lished category of knowledge work tools. In any case, teams’ interac)ons. An uncompelling, diﬃcult tool can become another necessary invest some part of their forma)ve discussions considering their The commonly cited maxim of the inﬂuen)al designer Charles Leave workers without suﬃcient cues about the ac(vi‐ reality. The status quo con)nues, despite the ongoing promise oﬀerings’ poten)al driving forces, brand posi)oning, and under‐ Eames, “the details are not the details, the details make the (es of their colleagues. This lack of awareness can lead of augmen)ng specialized, thinking work with compu)ng. lying technological characteris)cs. These eﬀorts typically involve design,” is a useful truism in the extended development of to misunderstandings, duplicated eﬀort, and the need to modeling ideas about poten)al opportuni)es in targeted viable compu)ng applica)ons for knowledge work. Aker all, if a extensively coordinate eﬀorts outside the compu)ng tool At the level of individual knowledge workers’ experiences, market segments, which oken correspond to a par)cular speciﬁc part of a user interface is missing important op)ons for itself. These nega)ve eﬀects may be found in intrinsically aZemp)ng to adopt and use poorly conceived applica)ons can range of knowledge work special)es and organiza)on types. the work prac)ces that a tool is designed for, then its usefulness collabora)ve work as well as eﬀorts that are not typically lead to frustra)on, anxiety and fa)gue. These nega)ve mental and usability will suﬀer during real world interac)ons. Armed recognized as having coopera)ve aspects. states are not conducive to people successfully accomplishing During this early ini)a)on, product strategy eﬀorts for knowl‐ with this understanding, some technologists immediately begin their goals or being sa)sﬁed in their working lives. Put another edge work applica)ons oken do not involve “design thinking” their journey away from the vagaries of a product’s strategy Fail to support informal communica(on in the con‐ way, knowledge work applica)ons have the capacity to detract in any real sense. When faced with the complexi)es of scoping toward something more “real.” Without considering how they texts where knowledge work is accomplished, as well as from the pleasure and well being that people experience as and conceiving a viable compu)ng tool, design idea)on, at the might be s)ﬂing their own success and innova)ons, these teams provide direct means for ac)vely ini)a)ng conversa)ons part of working in their chosen professions. Knowledge workers )me of wri)ng, seems to typically take a back seat role. This begin haphazardly an)cipa)ng workers’ detailed needs and about key outputs. These omissions can make essen)al oken do not contribute their eﬀorts solely for compensa)on in is in stark contrast to many other types of products, especially possible complaints as a means of sketching a sa)sfactory communica)on acts more eﬀortul, as workers aZempt an economic sense; their ac)ons are intertwined with personal outside of compu)ng, where design thinking is increasingly concept for their product. to create common ground and )e their ideas back into purpose and iden)ty. For this reason, a major deﬁciency in a being used as a key approach in early, ini)a)ng conversa)ons. applica)on content while using separate, “outside” knowledge work applica)on can be said to have a diﬀerent One does not need to look very far to see how genera)ve The path of the straight to the details progression is predictable communica)on channels. essen)al quality than a failure in, for example, an entertainment concep)ng of poten)al user experiences has become a central and common. Product teams enac)ng this progression begin Lack needed connec(vity op(ons for individuals and technology. When a knowledge work applica)on becomes an exercise in the development of many of today’s successful implemen)ng without the vector of a larger design strategy to organiza)ons to )e the product’s data and func)onali)es obstruc)on in its users’ prac)ces, vital )me and eﬀort is wasted. brands and product strategies. Yet in the much “younger” and guide them through the many highly speciﬁc choices that will into their broader technology environments. Resul)ng Beyond the obvious business implica)ons of such obstruc)ons, rela)vely distant disciplines that develop complex onscreen inevitably follow. Their ini)al concep)on of their product is rela‐ applica)ons can become isolated “islands” that may it is diﬃcult to suﬃciently underscore the poten)al importance applica)ons, the poten)al for design’s strategic contribu)ons )vely simplis)c, but they believe that they can con)nually map require considerable extra eﬀort in order to meaningfully of these losses to individual workers, especially when develop‐ has not been adequately recognized. out the complex speciﬁcs along the way, whether in diagram‐ incorporate their capabili)es and outputs into important ing products for highly skilled individuals who are seeking to ma)c illustra)ons, textual speciﬁca)ons, or in working code. work ac)vi)es. make their chosen contribu)ons to society and the world. They move forward with the implicit assump)on that interac)ve Getting to Design Details Too Quickly applica)ons, being made of abstract computer language, are These example points, which represent just a sampling of the So how did we get here? Where did this status quo come from? somehow highly malleable, and that all encompassing “ﬁxes” many problems that can be found in poorly envisioned knowl‐ Why are these tools not beZer designed? Why do the brand At the end of a knowledge work product’s ini)a)ng conversa‐ can be made when needed.edge work applica)ons, call aZen)on to the fact that these po‐ names of so many knowledge work products conjure disdain, )ons, when it appears that a project will become a funded and ten)al issues in users’ experiences are not “sok” considera)ons. or only a vague sense of comfort aker having been exten‐ staﬀed reality, there is oken a strong desire from all involved to In reality, product teams crea)ng knowledge work applica‐All of these points have implica)ons for workers’ sa)sfac)on sively used — instead of something more extraordinary? We see “something” other than high level abstrac)on and textual )ons rarely have the luxury of extensive downstream revisions, with a compu)ng tool, their discre)onary use of it, the quan)ty can assume that no product team sets out to deliver a poorly descrip)on. The common response to this desire is where despite their deep seated assump)ons to the contrary. When and quality of their work outcomes, and their percep)ons of a conceived tool to knowledge workers. And yet, even with good founda)onal user experience problems begin to crystallize. In a they do enjoy the luxury of such changes, the cost of these product’s brand. The sum of the above points can be viewed as inten)ons, that is what many have done and con)nue to do. characteris)c straight to the details progression, teams quickly, revisions can be prohibi)vely high. For this reason, key correc‐a fundamental threat to the core goals of organiza)ons that are Ironically, even tools designed for niche, domain speciﬁc ins)nctually move from high level considera)on of product )ons, addi)ons, and improvements are all too oken put oﬀ for seeking to adopt new technologies as a means of suppor)ng markets — which can represent the most concrete opportu‐ strategy into the smallest speciﬁcs of a product’s deﬁni)on, the “next version,” or “next public release” with the assump)on their knowledge workforces. ni)es to create truly reﬁned tools for speciﬁc work prac)ces design, and implementa)on. Their approach jumps abruptly that users will be able to work their way around any issues in — are not immune to these problems. In fact, they may be from the global to the extremely granular, without the connec‐ the mean)me. Facing limited resources and complex challenges, especially suscep)ble to them. )ve )ssue of a holis)c middle ground. many teams develop distorted no)ons of what cons)tutes acceptable, or even excep)onal, quality and user experience.
FRONT MATTER | INTRODUCTION WORKING THROUGH SCREENS 15While specifying every detail of a complex interac)ve applica‐)on before any implementa)on takes place is also not generally COMMON APPROACH TO ITERATIVE APPLICATION DESIGNconsidered a viable approach to product development, at the )me of wri)ng, the pendulum seems to have swung too far in the direc)on of improvising design strategy. Prevailing straight to the details ideologies are largely out of step with the reality of resul)ng product outcomes. A survey of the inﬂexibili)es, over extended interac)on frameworks, and scaZered concep‐tual models of contemporary knowledge work products in many domains can suﬃciently prove this point. Adding Features Until “Magic Happens”Behind the straight to the details progression is a belief that a successful, even visionary, product will somehow emerge from the sum of countless detailed deﬁni)on, design, and implemen‐ta)on decisions (see Figure 1). In this view, applica)ons can evolve from a collec)on of somewhat modular pieces, so long as the assemblage does not somehow “break” in the context of Begin creating individual Iteratively add more discrete Until magic happens, And a cohesive, or at leastusers’ human limita)ons and cultural expecta)ons. Keep work‐ features, without spending parts, without considering somehow unifying the satisfactory, applicationing on the details and magic will happen — or so the assump‐)on goes. any time in the space overarching ideas about aggregation of separately supposedly emerges between high level product how the application could created minutiaeThe larger gestalt of an interac)ve applica)on receives liZle or strategy and detailed mediate knowledge work In reality, such productsno considera)on in this framing of product development. Teams product implementation may be deeply andwith this mindset do not typically sketch diverse concepts for how their crea)on could mediate work prac)ce in appropri‐ frustratingly ﬂawed,ate, innova)ve, and valuable ways. To overstate the case, many driving poor user experienceproduct teams believe that knowledge workers can be support‐ and lesser outcomes ined by directly giving them what they want, adding details to a targeted knowledge worktool as needed in a somewhat systema)c manner. This approach may work for a while — un)l tools collapses along fundamental, structural fault lines of conceptual clarity, informa)on display, and meaningful consistency. Even though the magic happens expectaon oken results in poorly designed compu)ng tools for knowledge work, the straight to the details progression may be successfully applied to other types of onscreen products. This might explain why many product teams crea)ng knowledge work applica)ons s)ll hold on to these shared assump)ons — there are posi)ve examples and well known brand names that can serve as their reference points. When a product’s goals are rela)vely simple or very well characterized, as in a highly established genre of applica)on, teams can have a shared grounding without ac)vely taking )me to grow that collec)ve understanding. For example, everyone in a typical product team probably understands how a collabora)ve calendar applica)on works, because they use them every day. If their understanding happens to be less than complete, team members can probably round out their views
FRONT MATTER | INTRODUCTION WORKING THROUGH SCREENS 16without too much diﬃculty or discussion. A product team may had been realized. In his essay “Augmen)ng Human Intellect: direc)on from a pool of poten)al approaches, yet the magic envisioning suggests an early, separate interval in product de‐even be able to create real innova)ons in this kind of applica‐ A Conceptual Framework,” Englebart outlined how an architect happens expectaon restrains breadth and idea)on by promot‐ velopment in which teams can inten)onally and collabora)vely )on by making incremental changes in small details based on might use a computer to review a symbolic representa)on of ing a narrow track of implemented reality. In essence, teams consider poten)al design strategies and design concepts for assump)ons about unmet needs. a building site; consider diﬀerent scenarios in excava)on and following the straight to the details progression are prac)c‐ their compu)ng tool, rather than sliding down a largely uncon‐ building design; refer to handbook and catalog resources; locate ing single vision and concept design. The essen)al, elemental sidered course (see Figure 2). windows so that light is not reﬂected into the eyes of passing “shapes” of their products are the shapes that happen to unfold Crucial Understanding Gaps drivers; examine the resul)ng structure to ensure that it does in front of them aker the sum of many small decisions. They Applicaon envisioning can allow teams to cul)vate empathy not contain func)onal oversights; and store the resul)ng work deemphasize a larger type crea)vity, which in turn reduces for targeted knowledge workers and their worlds, lay the ground Tools for specialized knowledge work typically do not ﬁt this sort for later retrieval and annota)on by stakeholders (the architec‐ possibili)es for useful and compelling innova)on. work for inspira)on, explore diverse ques)ons and ideas about of “make it up as we go” mold. One of the main reasons is that tural examples used throughout this book are an homage to what their product could be, and develop a shared, big picture product teams inevitably have a diﬃcult )me understanding the Englebart’s landmark applica)on concept). So how can product teams crea)ng interac)ve applica)ons for view — with the assump)on that many important details will work prac)ces that they are striving to mediate. They do not knowledge work embrace this larger type of crea)vity? If the need to be ﬂeshed out along the way to a completed release.tacitly know the cultures that they are aZemp)ng to support. A Pioneers of interac)ve compu)ng, such as Englebart, did not straight to the details progression, the magic happens expec‐base level of understanding about larger systems of ac)vity and have the luxury of working only at the detailed level of their taon, and single vision and concept design characterize the One (increasingly rou)ne) process sugges)on for applicaon en‐meaning is necessary in order to design a useful tool that will be emerging crea)ons. They also set the vision and goals for their mindset that eventually leads to problema)c or failed comput‐ visioning is that this early, explora)ve )me presents a signiﬁcant well suited for those systems. Teams need to understand what own and subsequent genera)ons of technological development. ing tools, what mindset can teams adopt to avoid these pitalls? opportunity for product teams to get out of their oﬃces and the architect Eliel Saarinen spoke of as the “next larger context.” Looking objec)vely at the conversa)ons taking place in product into the ﬁeld. Teams can strive for “what it’s like” understanding Sokware developers, for example, do not inherently know what teams today, it appears that many technologists are relying very of knowledge workers’ current experiences by directly observ‐it means to analyze clinical research data, let alone how that heavily on these and other proceeding founda)ons. Not on the Introducing Application Envisioning ing and engaging in their worlds. While immersed in the ac)vi‐data ﬁts into the larger ﬂows of ac)vity within a research lab. intellectual spirit of these founda)ons, but on their literal con‐ )es that they are striving to mediate with compu)ng, teams can ven)ons. As knowledge work applica)ons have become stan‐ Generally speaking, product teams can cul)vate a perspec)ve uncover unmet needs and other important insights for design When technologists ﬁnd it diﬃcult to understand the many dardized and commonplace within technologists’ worldviews, of targeted yet open explora)on, without analysis paralysis. strategy. This immersion may also lead them to start think‐speciﬁcs of foreign and elaborate work prac)ces, they may it seems that we may have all become limited by a shared, infra‐ They can spend more )me in the space between product ing about their product as a service, either literally or in spirit, unwilngly hold onto an ini)al, roughly hewn, consensus view structural sense of what these tools can and should be. People origina)on and product implementa)on. They can create an which can highlight new areas for innova)on through ongoing, about knowledge workers’ ac)vi)es and needs. This view crea)ng these products have, to some extent, stopped examin‐ environment where divergence and a mul)plicity of ideas are networked connec)on. Teams may take a sense of partnership can become their framing point of reference throughout the ing them through a cri)cal lens that could uncover important valued in their discussions. They can forgo an early emphasis with targeted workers so far as to invite them to become development of their product, despite incoming informa)on new possibili)es. As they con)nue to copy and tweak exis)ng on speciﬁcs by crea)ng abstract models that visualize their collaborators, maintaining a healthy level of humility in the that could valuably transform it. In prac)ce, the momentum of standards, we become increasingly accustomed to a certain rate understandings and outline poten)al spaces of design possibil‐ face of their exper)se.a disoriented group’s ini)al concept for their compu)ng tool of change and a certain level of generic, all purpose design. ity. They can ask more ques)ons in their targeted markets and oken places certain ideas at the primary, driving core of what sketch novel concepts for how their products could play a role in Another process sugges)on is for product teams to look outside is eventually developed and released. What the architect and While vernacular evolu)on certainly has its place, repe))on knowledge work, while documen)ng tangible evidence of their of the work that they are targe)ng in order to cast new light on psychologist Bryan Lawson calls a “primary driver” takes hold in of familiar paZerns is clearly not the en)re picture of excep‐ ideas. They can balance top down decision making with boZom their envisioning ques)ons and their emerging design concepts. their design outputs. And in these cases, as end users of such )onal design process. Knowledge work tools can be much more up input from knowledge workers in order to synthesize singular While pioneering ﬁgures of interac)ve compu)ng had to work products can aZest, magic does not oken happen. than the sum of their discrete func)onal parts. A sole focus on design strategies. These strategies can embody a strong brand from an essen)ally blank slate, today’s technologists do not detailed salvaging and assembling of the past leaves no room posi)oning and the grounding of a team’s best applica)on have to start from square one when they think about what it for other, important pursuits. If product teams do not explore concept, assembled from a core set of sketched func)onali)es might mean to augment certain thought processes and ac)vi)es Uncritical Reliance on Pioneering Ideas diﬀerent strategies for their applica)on’s overall approach to that target a carefully chosen scope of work prac)ces. with compu)ng. There is a growing body of research and media)ng work, how will they imagine new tools that truly cri)cal perspec)ve that teams can use as lenses for making If the pioneers of interac)ve compu)ng had only been thinking and valuably ﬁt into workers’ specialized thought processes This suggested approach can be summarized by the following sense of these complex, mul)faceted design problems. In order about detailed design decisions, at the expense of the bigger and cultures? phrase, which appears in the opening pages of this book: to extract poten)al strategic principles, teams can examine picture, they would have likely never envisioned many of the compu)ng tools that have been successfully adopted into conven)ons that we commonly use today. For example, Douglas Extensive concep)ng, based on intensive ques)oning, similar ac)vity contexts within other types of work prac)ce. Englebart, a pivotal ﬁgure in the pioneering era, has deﬁned Embracing a More Strategic Creativity driving visionary, collabora)vely deﬁned strategies for Advanced analogies to products in other domains can lead to much of his working life based on a series of epiphanies about examplary tools for thought. inspira)on that may fuel truly novel solu)ons that draw upon how technology could enhance human problem solving. Appropriate and exci)ng concepts for knowledge work tools are seemingly unrelated ﬁelds of endeavor.During a )me when computers were s)ll primarily used for built on holis)c vision, not just paZern matching and incremen‐ Is there a repeatable methodology or process to advance this batch process mathema)cal tasks, he envisioned remarkable tal itera)on. They require a carefully considered design strategy change in mindset and general approach? Not in any strict The idea of applicaon envisioning has strong parallels to mind‐possibili)es for the applica)on of compu)ng to knowledge to tame their poten)al complexi)es into clear, useful, and sense, because these explora)ons are very emergent and free‐ sets found in other, older design disciplines, whose prac))oners work. Of par)cular interest is Englebart’s astonishing 1962 desirable simplicity. form, despite their focused nature. However, a name for this more commonly apply design thinking in strategic ways. For ex‐descrip)on of an architect using interac)ve compu)ng as a period between project ini)a)on and project implementa)on ample, product teams crea)ng compu)ng tools for knowledge ﬂuid part of complex work prac)ces, long before such a future The very idea of design strategy implies the selec)on of one could allow teams to eﬀec)vely plan for it. The term applicaon work can learn a great deal about envisioning new technolo‐ gies from the successful prac)ces of the best industrial design
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