Application Envisioning idea
Examples from three knowledge work domains:
(Illustrated above) A scientist arrives at her clinical lab and launches her analysis application. She
selects the option to resume working on the last project that she had open, and
the application displays every element of her view just as she had left it, including
a reminder that she had entered to tell herself what to do next.
It can be difficult for knowledge workers to “get back into” interrupted efforts, even after relatively short breaks. Relevant cognitive states do not reappear at the flip of a proverbial switch, though recognizable external cues can help workers to appropriately return their attentions to where they had left off.
An architect logs out of her building modeling application so that she can attend a meeting, knowing that the exact same view, along with a message about her colleagues’ current project tasks, will be called up when she logs back in after the meeting is over.
A financial trader leaves an incomplete trade form open in his trading application while he books a more time sensitive deal. The half empty form serves as a reminder about the unfinished trade and allows him to quickly resume the task later.
In order to envision valuable functional responses for resuming work, product teams can examine certain tasks and larger activities through the lens of potential interruptions (A, C5). At an application level, products can “remember” the contents and arrangement of a display exactly as workers had left it (C4, E3, E4). Saved display states can also reappear contextually, when users reopen particular interaction objects that they had previously modified, for example (B1, B2, G1). Alternately, workers can choose to save explicit “bookmarks” that they can later return to (E1, E2, H1).
Stored historical traces of cooperative action can also be useful when resuming work (H2, B5). For example, in cases where colleagues have modified shared interaction objects that were previously in use (B6, H3), workers may benefit from a concise update on relevant changes that have been made in their absence (C7, G4, D6).
When product teams do not actively consider how individuals might part from and return to different threads of knowledge work, resulting applications may force users to expend extra effort recalling and recreating where they had left off (D2, D3). In complex situations, people may make notable mistakes when attempting to get back into their previous states of focused attention (C9, G3). In response to these difficulties, individuals may resort to workarounds, such as creating external memory aids at interruption points (H).
See also: B7, D, E, H4, J4, J5, K13
Application Envisioning questions:
More specific questions for product teams to consider:
How often do targeted individuals currently step away from and return to the work practices that your team is striving to mediate?
What are some common scenarios for setting aside work? What do knowledge workers have to remember when resuming targeted tasks or larger activities?
How does the structure of their environments currently help them to recall “their place”?
What memory cues do they purposefully add for themselves? What other strategies do they employ to more quickly and accurately refocus their attentions
on earlier threads?
What errors can occur when workers resume previous efforts? Could these problems present opportunities for your team’s product?
What larger design and technology trends could influence your ideas about how your application concepts could support reconnection with work in progress?
How might your team’s sketched functionalities reduce the difficulty of returning
to earlier threads of work?
What application events, such as logging in or reopening a particular work item, could provide useful opportunities to implicitly recreate workers’ views within your computing tool?
What specific interaction objects or application level elements could be restored
in ways that may remind workers’ of “their place?”
What explicit methods of bookmarking or otherwise cataloging work progress
might workers find valuable?
How might shared uses of application content present opportunities to valuably highlight important changes as workers’ resume their “paused” efforts?
How might your team’s approaches for work resumption relate to your other concepts for supporting cognitive tracing, cooperation, collaboration, and workspace awareness?
How might your application concepts provide additional support in these areas
for an aging knowledge workforce?
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?
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