A Synthesized Conceptual Framework for the Design of User Interfaces of Interactive Information Products Open Access
The primary purpose of an interactive information product (IIP) is to display information developed/selected by the producer to have some mental impact on the user (e.g., to educate or to persuade) rather than facilitate user tasks (e.g., online stock trading) via the user interface (UI).IIP UI design has considerations beyond UI design meant primarily for task facilitation. Compared to the latter, the field is new although widely practiced. There is considerable scholarly literature on related topics, e.g., website design. However, concepts/terms in the field are still evolving; well-defined, widely accepted conceptual and generic frameworks for IIP UI design have not emerged yet. Some discussions in the literature are stated in the context of specific application domains or technologies, although they offer ideas that can be generalized.We formulated a conceptual framework for IIP UI design, derived by synthesizing suitable frameworks found in a selected set of ten papers, offering benefits for both scholars and practitioners. We searched four document databases, using several search strategies, to select the most salient set of papers for the synthesis. Our methodology for the conceptual synthesis is based on descriptions we found in the literature for qualitative meta-synthesis and other relevant meta-study methods.The synthesized framework is structured into the following element groups, each containing multiple elements: Scope, Applicability, & Context; Development Process; Major Design Components/Artifacts; Product Components or Aspects; Key Terms. The first group contains only meta-elements; the remaining groups form the basic framework. Some examples of basic framework elements are: Conceptual Model: Information; Conceptual Model: Navigation; Pedagogical Model; Information Content & Media; User Interface: Appearance Design; User Interface: Interaction Design; UI (as a product component rather than design component); Information Repository.The framework is not as comprehensive and generic as we wanted (e.g., the Pedagogical Model should preferably have been a general purpose Mental Impact Model) but is a useful first step. We provide an analysis of what it includes and lacks, offering ideas for using, improving, and extending it. In addition to the framework, contributions of our study include the concept of an IIP and a detailed methodology for conceptual synthesis.
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