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Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved. How Devices Shift Usage ParadigmsExpectations in a Converging Technology Arena Alex Paul Conn, Ph.D. Principal APConnsulting.com Presented at The UPA-Boston Fourth Annual Mini UPA Conference, 2005 Held at The MathWorks, Inc. Natick, MA Presented at The UPA-Boston Fourth Annual Mini UPA Conference, 2005 Held at The MathWorks, Inc. Natick, MA
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.2 Contents Converging Technologies and Usage Paradigms Case study: Shifting Contexts Challenges of the Wireless Context Time Entry Paradigm Comparison Initial Approach Testing Issues, new requirements, and ideas for rapid entry Description of new implementation What Happened? Conclusion Future study Principles and Findings
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.3 What are Converging Technologies? 02/08/05 Nortel and Research in Motion (RIM) announced a partnership where users will be able to run Nortel's converged voice/data applications on a new WiFi- enabled BlackBerry handheld device. 02/14/05 The thorniest issues in convergence involve personnel instead of technology Convergence is a combining of previously separate technologies, e.g., voice, data, video, audio, cameras, wireless, VoIP, televisions, computers… What happens to usage?
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.4 If you build it, can they use it? Can you shift (port) an application from one device to another? –How much of the usage on one device is the same as the usage on a different technology? What are the expectations? –How does context affect these expectations? What are the sources of possible conflict? What changes in the usage scenarios? –Do the roles change? –Do the workflows, processes, tasks change? This talk is an illustrative case study
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.5 Shifting Usage Paradigms and Expectations What changes? Why?
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.6 How everything already works on a specific device Device Key Components of the Paradigm Context when you start… Domain Processes, workflows, terminologies, key tasks, etc. in an industry or specialty Application How the program already does domain mapping. Existing interfaces, protocols, training
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.7 Paradigm Contexts overlap: Tensions and Tradeoffs Device DomainApplication Users differ in the weight given to each context
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.8 Converging Paradigms: Tensions and Tradeoffs… Domain II Application 2 Device B Device A Domain I Application 1
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.9 Illustrative Case Study: The Context (Law Firm Application) Domain: Attorneys enter billing hours –Complex problem: Clients and matters (projects) Each matter is like a bill of materials (different fields, field names, numbers of fields, rules) Format changes dynamically (for each matter, phase) Only relevant and valid information allowed Stakeholders –Partners, Lawyers, IT (rollout and support) –Implicit: clients and regulatory agencies Drivers –Convert lost time to billable time –Allow time entry on the go with PDA
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.10 Existing Windows Context Windows-based time entry applicationWindows-based time entry application with GUI –Operated by administrative assistant –Some attorneys use in office or over VPN –Some attorneys use paper slips or calendars Multiple windows dialog boxes Complex submission and release process Complex regulations, firm-specific procedures Client-matter database entries custom to attorney Detailed billing information required by law
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.11 New Context Constraint: use BlackBerry devices –Most attorneys already use a BlackBerry for –Long battery life, secure, built-in keyboard –Allowed in court (with cell phone disabled) Goals –Port Windows time entry application to existing BlackBerry wireless devices –Piggyback on existing secure paradigm used for , etc.
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.12 New Context (contd) Key principles –Must function with and without signal, on the road –Only valid entries are created; no fix-up needed –Entries are never lost by the system –No duplicate entries –Attorneys can only generate their own entries –No significant time required to create time entry
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.13 BlackBerry Context PDA: in this case BlackBerry –Small screen, low resolution –Minimal graphics: application icons and some application-specialized characters –Keyboard operated by thumbs. Some characters are hard to select. –Scrolling done by track wheel Roll to move up and down one line Push to select Hold alt key and track wheel to move along line –Some heuristics for saving keystrokes Example: Hold key for a second and letter changes to upper case.
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.14 Problem Statement Migrate application to handheld (BlackBerry) Relatively small displays limit real estate for context Primarily black and white textual display –limiting rendering mechanisms for cognitive aids User has very short time to construct entries –Must recognize context and state almost instantaneously Minimal training of target users –Familiar with Windows metaphors for task completion –Highly resistant to spending time on training or learning Why cant I do the same thing on my BlackBerry? But…what is the same thing?
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.15 Application Challenges Task-based accounting: each client/matter is different –Client-matter field name, select list, number of fields –Different combinations for patent law, tort law, real estate law, etc. User-specific data: each user has different data –Personal lists of clients and matters –Local store must be different for every user –Must limit context to applicable and valid entries Validation: device must prevent invalid results –Select list must always be for a valid combination –Fractions of hours and rounding rules change
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.16 Time-Entry Paradigm Comparison Examples of What Shifts Location: fixed desktop or laptop, tied to LAN or wLAN. On attorneys person (e.g., pocket, purse) Office, home, at end of day or during breaks (e.g., lunch) During meeting, on the road, in the office Prolonged duration, stableShort duration, quick entry While in office or at home, at end of day Before and after meeting. Sometimes during meeting. Will not attempt application if computer is not online Need to make entry whether or not there is a connection Computer Usage ParadigmPDA Usage Paradigm Location Time of access Interaction length Frequency Reliability Dimension Not an issue. Attorney creates complete entries and submits Entries may be partial and need later fix-up. Control of submission Large real estate area with many dialog boxes Incomplete context uncertainty breaks workflow Context (cognitive)
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.17 Key factors we thought governed success Domain familiarity –Similarity cognitive or metaphorical to known domain Domain expressability –Key factors and complexity are available and understandable Task Facility –Context clarifiers or function accelerators Device familiarity –Leverages device styles + other familiar methods Comprehensibility –Clear visual indication of context and correctness of action Customization and adaptability –Can adapt to changed procedures, contexts, and role diversity
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.18 New Aspects of a Wireless Context Intermittent connections –Unreliable medium (signal may fade) –How to avoid duplicates or lost information if the transmission fails? Synchronization –Attorneys want to control when they synchronize –Need to use device while synchronizing with firm database –Need to be able to distinguish new entries from synchronized ones
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.19 Initial Approach (time entry screen) Almost exact correspondence with Windows GUI Same drop-down lists when in corresponding field
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.20 Initial Approach (recent entry list) Ability to review recent submissions Other sorting (by client, by matter, by date) all available Optional numeric IDs can be displayed (used by many attorneys) Status codes at the left (discussed later)
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.21 So how do you test? No contextual Inquiry testing with attorneys –Attorneys are very protective of their time (too busy for testing) –A few lawyers were representatives on IT advisory boards –Testing / feedback at legal trade shows using Camtasia videos Full access to IT representatives –They understood the applications but not the context –They were often blind to the subtleties of the paradigm Users from our company included attorney salesman –Many different backgrounds and levels of expertise –On-device as well as Windows simulator testing Vendor feedback (PC time entry back end applications) –Very familiar with typical users and their needs –Expert on all aspects of the interface and rationale behind features Ongoing emulator testing and iterative enhancement –Testing via development of scenarios for videos and hardcopy –UI tester had full development environment, daily/hourly updates –Manipulated database, XML, display, boundary conditions
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.22 What we found: First try was very easy to understand, but… Mapping of desktop to RIM easily grasped RIM changed the paradigm –Used while traveling, not while at home or in the office –Expectations very different from desk side PC Handheld device expectations and limitations –Accelerators for entry (select lists with narrowing of options) valuable but not sufficient –Task took too long to complete (1-2 minutes). –Full display of context was critical to speed
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.23 New requirement: task time Consultation with –pilot law firms –desktop vendors Requirements for second task completion (about 10x faster) –Accelerate familiar and frequent tasks –Leverage the small number of changes needed for most tasks –Retain content: change only what is different –Show Context: complete display of context allows for quick confirmation
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.24 Ideas for a rapid entry interface Based on familiar preview pane concept –Ability to assess full context prior to action –Simplest need requires simplest action Self-adapting template to represent state –Remembers change to affected time entry context (settable) –Independent state context for each current project –Large number of templates supported by interface –User control over default nicknames for quick recognition New RIM BlackBerry regions needed mechanisms –Independent regions –Independent scrolling capability template vs. template details –Representation of currently viewed entry (template) –Representation of independently timing entry
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.25 Template stack (visual representation) Top pane lists templates (corresponds to projects) Bottom pane displays all essential context details Adopts familiar paradigm
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.26 Scrolling over each pane separately Top pane lists all of the current templates (ActiveSlips) –Track wheel moves selection up and down Bottom pane shows all details of the currently highlighted template –Alt + track wheel scrolls the bottom region (if necessary)
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.27 Simple entry with no modifications Standard BlackBerry-style menus New Entry is the default highlighted option Two clicks to entry. Need only enter time Rapid entry feature (scroll wheel increments hours/fractions) Date change is optional Entry takes seconds, not 1-2 minutes
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.28 Creating templates from time entries Any existing entry can be used to create template Creation dialog box allows change to default nickname Once created, the entry appears in the template list Template and nickname can be edited if desired Customizable default auto-naming scheme
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.29 Full entry with some modifications New Entry (Full Edit) allows modification of one or all fields Template optionally keeps up with changes Changed template information fully visible in context Most fields are select lists (speedy)
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.30 Starting Timer Select entry and click. Start timer is default first menu option User can adjust the start time or click at the current time Once started, template corresponding to timed entry is italicized. Note: user can view a different template during timing
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.31 Stopping Timer Click on italicized entry which is running timer Click on Stop timer which brings up End timer dialog Note, you can click on a different entry to stop italicized entry and start new entry simultaneously
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.32 Relationship to Windows Client The Windows application provides the same task-based entry as the BlackBerry full entry capability –The select lists on the BlackBerry are roughly the same as the ellipses –Status on the BlackBerry must encompass synchronization as well as the back-end database state
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.33 Relationship of BlackBerry client to Windows implementation A Timer feature within the Windows application roughly corresponds to the template entry that is italicized –The incrementing time is at the top line just above the ActiveSlip list –The main properties of the highlighted ActiveSlip are displayed in the Details (bottom) pane –Note: PC application requires separate dialog which breaks context
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.34 Addressing Wireless Challenges Intermittent connections –Unreliable medium full local storage of information –Full local storage personalized select lists for each user –Retransmission without information corruption or duplication unique time entry number with idempotency Synchronization –Control = policy decision: attorney controls when to synchronize. –Lock out only what is being synchronized. Rest of interface is fully available (separate threads) –Synchronization in both directions: BlackBerry entries to server and server entries (from Windows client) to BlackBerry –Status codes to indicate rich set of states. (Codes can be ignored without consequences)
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.35 Follow-up testing No contextual Inquiry testing with attorneys! –Trade Shows and Legal advisory boards provided key feedback, especially regarding task timing –Importance of fidelity of Camtasia videos and actual operation –Validated the template approach for both usability and speed Full access to IT representatives –Initially concerned with training and rollout –Feedback on Quick Start Guide: all that was initially needed Users from startup –Understandable to many backgrounds and levels of expertise –Actual BlackBerry device (in addition to emulator) testing led to thread priority design to maximize responsiveness
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.36 What Happened? Migrating GUI to handheld changed the paradigm: –Change in how used: intermittently, frequently, for short time periods –Changes in when used: during day at start and end of meetings –Changes in attitude: impatient, time is potentially billable –Changes in workflow (submission): Need local storage of incomplete entries Need control over when submitted –Changes in connection: required complete local storage
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.37 What Happened (contd)? Second design responded to paradigm shift –Needed first version to understand changes in paradigm, usage patterns –Device Domain Application all contribute to paradigm. Can be user-specific –Needed second design to overcome device limitations. –New (even to RIM) design was unlike any on Blackberry but similar to familiar paradigm. –Stack of context templates was a computer science artifact (not an issue for users).
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.38 Conclusion You dont just migrate an application –Application Device Domain paradigms –Wireless usage added further challenges –Unanticipated usage patterns and use cases Usage was analyzed during each download –Camtasia movies helped visualization of effectiveness (you market usage) New design –Concept of stack of context templates –Novel but familiar interface for quick access –Full display of context key to speed of activity
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.39 Future Study Synchronization Device –Visual indication of synchronization process and progress –Automatic control of synchronization where desired Visual indication of billing during day Domain –Blocks for which there is no time entered –Ability to fill in and adjust within visual context Ability to apportion time Domain –Example: research for two clients at same time IT interfaces usability improvements Application –More streamlined rollout of individual local storage information Leveraging color Device/App –Newest BlackBerry devices have color capability –Use to highlight key status information, errors, active templates
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved.40 Principles and Findings Same tasks change with new device paradigm Domain is same operations / workflow should appear familiar Small screen boiled down to essentials Context completeness quick decisions Self-adapting template minimized corrections Intermittent connection use while re-transmitting Synchronization local storage paradigm policy allowing user choice Device paradigm easily extended if extension is already familiar Performance analysis with RIM redesign of application with high priority threads Works with quirks is OK for paradigm shifts (80/20 rule)
Copyright © 2005, Alex Conn. All Rights Reserved. Questions? Feedback? Contact: Alex Paul Conn
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