University of Konstanz
Graduiertenkolleg / PhD Program
Computer and Information Science

Graduation Talks


Digital Tools for Supporting Collaborative Activities in Design Processes


Florian Geyer, University Konstanz
Konstanz, Germany

date & place

Wednesday, 03.11.2010, 16:15 h
Room C 252


Design methodology is increasingly influencing Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) as well as other traditionally engineering-oriented disciplines. Unlike analytical thinking in classical engineering design processes, "design thinking" is an opportunistic, yet structured activity based on building up and combining ideas. It encourages maximum input and participation without early judgments that might lead to a fear of failure during ideation and prototyping phases. Due to an increasing need for creativity and innovation in HCI, new design methods and techniques were introduced in early process phases, which also led to a novel perspective called "Interaction Design". One key characteristic of these methods is collaboration and embodied practice.
When designers are creating and revising ideas during early interaction design stages, they often harness the spatial properties of the environment. Paper sketches, post-its or other physical artifacts are shared on large whiteboards or spread out on tables and walls for comparison and discus-sion with other designers. In design studio environments, the room itself is an important tool that allows organizing information in an informal and spatial way. Especially during group activities, physical accessibility and visibility of artifacts is crucial for efficient communication. This is one of the reasons why interaction designers often prefer to work with pen and paper during creative group activities. Paper provides a flexible semi-private workspace while sharing is as simple as pinning the paper on the wall or spreading it out on the table.
However, when using desktop-based electronic tools, the artifacts that are created are often hidden in file systems and are hardly accessible during group activities. Nevertheless, digital artifacts are frequently needed for documenting ide-as and progress, for sharing across digital networks and for keeping archives in digital repositories over the course of a design process. Especially in interaction design, artifacts are eventually needed as digital representations.