Deceived by Ease of Use

Kurt Schneider, Alex ander Repenning
Department of Computer Science and Center for LifeLong Learning and Design {ktschnei, ralex} University of Colorado at Boulder Campus Box 430, Boulder, CO 80309-0430


Application frameworks for visual design environments usually offer a wide range of features and easy-to-use mechanisms to develop applications. We observed that sometimes those features deceive application designers: Tempted by the desire to make rapid progress, designers go into too much detail about easy things too early in the process, like graphical representations. After the easy-to-use mechanisms have been exploited, they find themselves stuck and frustrated. Premature design decisions made during the feature-driven phase can corrupt application system architecture or require abandonment of much work. Extensive rework endangers project success.

Paradigmatic applications can help to bridge the gap between application framework features and intended application better than manuals or additional features can. As examples and sources for reusable components, this special kind of exemplary applicationsdirects the attention of designers to higher-level building blocks and helps them to avoid premature feature exploitation. We characterize paradigmatic applications and describe their impact on the design process.


Application framework, visual design environment, analogies, examples, design proces