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HCIL-2005-30

Plaisant, C., Shneiderman, B., Baker, H., Duarte, N., Haririnia, A., Klinesmith, D., Lee, H., Velikovich, L., Wanga, A., Westhoff, M. (November 2005)
Personal Role Management: Overview and a Design Study of Email for University Students
To appear in: Kaptelinin, V., Czerwinski, M. (Eds) Integrated Digital Work Environments: Beyond the Desktop, MIT Press, (This is an expansion on HCIL-2003-30), (2007) 143-170.
HCIL-2005-30

Evidence is accumulating about the difficulties that users have in managing their work using contemporary graphical user interfaces. Current designs offer a hierarchy of folders containing documents and taskbar operations to launch/exit applications. We propose a Personal Role Management strategy that emphasizes management of the multiple roles users have in their professional and personal lives. Each role involves coordination with groups of people and accomplishment of tasks within a schedule. We define Personal Role Management and summarize our earlier work that led to this strategy. This current project focused on understanding how Personal Role Management might improve email for college students. College students often assume distinct and predictable roles. Their student role is structured by the rhythm and interactions of classes, projects and exams. In both their family role and their work role for local companies, they deal with separate groups of people. We describe scenarios of use of a role-based email system, an interface mockup and user reactions. This research suggests that using those roles as a driving component for designing an email interface might address problems identified in our surveys and interviews of college students.


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