Human-Centric Design of Unified Communications: e-Collaboration Features

Human-Centric Design of Unified Communications: e-Collaboration Features

Carolina Abrantes (Instituto de Telecomunicações, Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal), Óscar Mealha (Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal), Diogo Gomes (Instituto de Telecomunicações, Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal), João Paulo Barraca (Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal) and José Ferreira (GoTelecom, Wavecom, Aveiro, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJeC.2018040101
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This article describes a co-design process in the context of user experience (UX) and usability testing and analysis of a first proof of concept of e-collaboration features based on unified communications, co-designed within an organization aiming to optimize users' communication cognitive load. An initial digital prototype with a detailed graphical interface, and simulated user narratives was established and the qualitative validation process is described and discussed. The implemented R&D process is mainly supported on user-centred design (UCD) methodology, namely action research with service design thinking method and co-design techniques. Qualitative data was gathered with concurrent think-aloud activities (CTA) stimulated by user experience expectation questions, observation notes, with integration in an eye tracking technology system. The UCD process and results are discussed, substantiating the added value due to the individual contributions and consequent usefulness of a final unified communication service for the organization.
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The current technological market displays a progressively increasing number of communication solutions in the form of tools and services (Riemer & Wulf, 2010). Although every solution may improve or solve one communication problem, its proliferation is also creating a new problem: how to identify and select the ideal service for each communication setting. According to Fuze (2017), communication tools should empower productivity, though it increases the need for organizations to analyse each solution, rejecting redundant apps and tools. As depicted, ‘IT leaders are battling a productivity threat in the form of application sprawl: workers navigating between tools and devices to share, connect, and communicate’ (Fuze, 2017, p. 11), which can lead to failed communications attempts, lost time, disruptive work interruptions and frictions in team collaboration (Riemer & Wulf, 2010). Furthermore, having to juggle between diverse modes of communication has been associated to interaction overload (when the level of interaction an individual needs to engage in exceeds his communicative and cooperative capacity) and communication deficiency (when a communication is established through an undesired mode of communication) (Ljungberg & Sørensen, 1998). Summing up, while a recipient wishes to be constantly accessible, the way in which a communication is carried out might not be desirable.

Also relevant in this context of research is the cognitive load theory (CLT). This theory is based on the notion of a limited working memory capacity related to an amount of information expected to be processed. Some research has been done in order to relate CLT to Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), mostly concerned with the development of educational interfaces (Chalmers, 2003; Hollender, Hofmann, Deneke, & Schmitz, 2010; Oviatt, 2006). As a usability goal and to succeed in the creation of an intuitive and usable interface, aiming to reduce memory load and decrease irrelevant load (extraneous) (Hollender et al., 2010; Oviatt, 2006), frees up mental resources that allow to perform main tasks better whilst remaining attuned to the surrounding context (Oviatt, 2006).

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