The Command Post of the Future (CPOF) desktop software was being re-architected from a network-dependent architecture to a distributed, disconnected operations architecture. With this, end users could continue to work without a network connection and their changes would seamlessly re-synchronize upon automatic reconnect. My initial research project on presenting editing conflicts found that users need to know about change history, just as much as they require information about conflicts. Maps and other visualizations in CPOF lacked this history information.
This project followed a User-Centered Design process. Warfighters were observed sharing the same Map at a Military Readiness Exercise (MRX). Based upon these observations, I created user vignettes to describe the collaborative use cases and an and an identification of typical information needs. For instance, end users desire answers to questions like “Who navigated my Map?” and “Were the privileges on my Map changed?”. CPOF users also need to know if a visualization is current and actively being used.
Beyond understanding who is updating a visualization and how, though, this project realized that end users desperately need ways to recover from slips and mistakes. Working closely with the engineers, a set of revert-able user actions were prioritized and negotiated. The resulting UI allows users to restore prior navigation and privileges settings, among others.
Evaluations of the initial paper and functional prototypes exposed usability issues. Both the language for describing the user actions performed and the interactions for reverting changes were redesigned in the final UI.
User-centered design methods: User observations, User vignettes, Competitor Analysis, Information Design, Interaction Design, Focus Group discussions, Paper and functional prototype evaluations