Application Envisioning idea
Examples from three knowledge work domains:
(Illustrated above) A financial trader likes that when he sends a specific offer or completed trade form as an email attachment, his trading application automatically creates the document in the professional “look” of his company.
In some knowledge work domains, work products may be the culmination of countless hours of effort. In other domains, they may be created relatively rapidly and repeatedly, in highly standardized formats. In either case, the stakeholders of an activity may only see workers’ artifactual results (G7, J). Since many individual efforts and stages in knowledge work (A) can become largely invisible once they are completed, workers often place a high priority on the content, format, and appearance of their outputs.
An architect likes that she can tailor the visual conventions that her new building modeling application uses when it automatically creates design drawings, specifications, and other documentation. This flexibility allows her to maintain a strong continuity with how her studio has traditionally presented their work to long standing clients and other audiences.
A scientist is surprised by the quality of the graphs that she can export from her analysis application. Previously, to get high quality visuals that appropriately represent her lab’s work, she had imported different subsets of clinical data into separate, specialized graphing tools.
In order to envision functionality concepts that could reduce the effort needed to create valued work outputs (E3, E4), product teams must understand related professional practices, standards (A4, F2, J6, K3), and flexibility requirements (A9). Appropriate aesthetic directions can emerge from meaningfully referencing information artifacts that targeted workers currently use while at the same time enhancing their graphic design clarity (F, L3).
When product teams do not actively consider support for creating high quality and
appealing work products in their application concepts, they may overlook opportunities to provide value at the iterative and concluding seams of workers’ activities (G1). Although users may prize a resulting tool’s functional offerings for getting their work done, they may then need to expend considerable additional effort to create outputs that they consider to be desirable (D2, D3). Since many knowledge workers do not necessarily have nuanced design skills, their own creations may not effectively communicate their important content.
Conversely, not every application needs to include extra functionality for creating
appealing work products. When constraints vary widely (A6, A7, A8, K1), documentation efforts can be offloaded through seamless interactivity (K8), interoperability (K9), or integration (K10) with workers’ related computing tools.
See also: B, C5, C8, E, K12, L, M
Application Envisioning questions:
More specific questions for product teams to consider:
Which work products do targeted individuals currently put the most emphasis on? The least emphasis?
What roles do specific artifactual outputs, whether physical or digital, play in targeted work practices?
What audiences are different work products intended for?
Is there a separation between informal, working versions and formal, presentation versions of these artifacts? How do professional practices and standards commonly vary for different levels of formality?
How are different types of outputs currently delivered?
What do targeted knowledge workers think about their current processes for creating and communicating their own outputs? What parts of these processes require tedious effort or can frequently lead to breakdowns? Could these problems represent potential opportunities for your product?
What do recipients of work products think about current artifacts?
What work products might become the natural “take aways” of your team’s application concepts? What new types of outputs could provide value as part of your strategic approach to mediating work?
What functionality concepts might your team envision to automate standard operations in the process of creating certain work products?
What media formats could be appropriate for each type of work output that your team is envisioning? What technology implications might these choices have, in the context of current trends and existing systems?
Which of your sketched interaction objects could certain outputs be based upon? How might work products retain recognizable representational features from these sources?
How might your team valuably enhance the graphic design clarity of important work products, without any extra work on the part of their creators?
What flexibilities might targeted individuals and organizations want or need in order to make the automatic generation of work products useful and relevant in their own, local cultures of practice?
What contextual pathways to communication options could conclude the process
of creating work outputs in your sketched application concepts?
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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