Informing General CSCW Product Development through Cooperative Design in Specific Work Domains
Cooperative analysis and design is often considered only to beapplicable in settings where a system is being developed solely for the‘user’ participants in the process. This paper, however, argues that thereare quite good prospects in applying cooperative analysis and designtechniques in specific use settings to inform development of general CSCWproducts. We describe and discuss the application of cooperative –i.e., participatory – analysis and design techniques in a projectdeveloping a general cooperative hypermedia framework as well as specifichypermedia applications to support sharing of materials in the engineeringdomain. In our project, a single engineering company (Great Belt Link Ltd.)was chosen as the user organization. The paper summarizes the process fromobservational studies, over a future workshop and cooperative prototypingactivities, to a pilot installation. We describe how these activitiesinformed the general hypermedia framework and application design. Usescenarios and prototypes with example data from the users' daily work wereused as sources both to trigger design ideas and new insights regarding workpractice. Common participants in specific activities and general developmentactivities supported transfer of work domain knowledge into general featuresof the product being developed. Mutual challenging characterized theinteraction between specific cooperative analysis and design activities andgeneral development activities. Prototypes, scenarios, materials from thework practice, and concise bullet list summaries were used as mediatingartifacts in this interaction rather than comprehensive requirement anddesign specifications.