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Generating Good Design Questions

Victoria Bellotti, Allan MacLean, Tom Moran
This report consists of two short papers. They address the importance of explicitly asking good QOC Questions to help structure the design space in a coherent way and to help explore the design space. Computing technologies are commonly employed as their users discuss either the task at hand or unrelated matters with co-present colleagues, clients, customers or other individuals. As yet, however, there is relatively little research concerning the relationship between system use and interpersonal communication in such environments. Research in HCI has largely been confined to a single user carrying out tasks on a personal workstation. Moreover, those studies which have focused on the use of systems within socio-interactional environments have been primarily concerned with using the conversations of the participants as a resource for analysing human-computer interactions. As such, they have shed little light on the ways in which system use and communicative conduct may be coordinated and shaped by reference to each other more extensively. The first paper is an extended abstract which outlines the issues in a general way. The second works through a more detailed example derived from studies of designers redesigning the user interface for a bank ATM. The papers point out features of Questions (and the structure of associated Options) which help characterise the coherent representation of a design space. Such considerations should help designers understand the problem better and therefore produce more effective solutions and should ultimately make key issues in the design space more salient for those who have to understand the design later. One implication which emerges particularly strongly from considering how one goes about creating a good QOC representation is that it evolves over time and requires continual refinement and restructuring.
Xerox Technical Report


EPC-1991-136.pdf (45.55 kB) (117.69 kB)