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In many professions, knowledge workers’ attentions can be stretched to their proverbial limits by multiple threads of activity and steady streams of interruptions. To be successful in their chosen vocations, workers may become skilled at estimating the effort that incoming work items will require, attending to pressing items, setting aside less urgent needs, and recognizing opportunities to delegate work or otherwise make it less time consuming.
The overall “load” placed upon workers’ emotions and cognitive abilities can be a serious consideration for the design of interactive applications. The stress involved in some knowledge work professions has been tied to health problems in the people that practice them. While poorly designed onscreen applications can be obvious contributors to this stress, even carefully designed products, in conjunction with related workplace demands, can require taxing levels of concentration that may be difficult to effectively sustain.
Although many product teams may briefly discuss the limitations of hypothetical users’ attentions when they evaluate detailed design options, they may be less likely to do so when considering their products’ overarching design strategies and possible design directions. Without these early discussions about potential influences on knowledge workers’ concentrations and mental efforts, teams may not recognize certain opportunities to thoughtfully shape their design concepts around important attentional considerations — until after workers have actually adopted resulting products and begin asking for certain types of improvements.
This category contains 7 of the 100 application envisioning ideas in this book:
D1. Respected tempos of work
D2. Expected effort
D3. Current workload, priority of work, and opportunity costs
D4. Minimizing distraction and fostering concentration
D5. Resuming work
D6. Alerting and reminding cues
D7. Eventual habit and automaticity
Product teams can use these ideas to explore potential roles for their computing tools in the ongoing flow of knowledge workers’ attentions. Ideation around workers' attentional demands in specific situations can help teams establish key design constraints and drive exploration of appropriate design responses. It can also allow teams to uncover opportunities to reduce attention related burdens through targeted automation functionalities.
The central notion of this category is most closely related to the “Exploring work mediation and determining scope” (A), “Providing opportunities to offload effort” (E), “Clarifying central interactions” (G), and “Promoting integration into work practice” (K)
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