Supporting the design process of distributed and collocated multidisciplinary design teams through tag and thumbnail based organization of design documents
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In the multidisciplinary design process, design documents are used to help support a team's design and mediate any misunderstandings that occur. Current methods of organizing such design documents are either difficult to keep up to date physically with their digital versions, or inhibit distributed users access to important comparative information. Digital tag and content thumbnail-based document organization is presented as a possible alternative. The effects of tag-based document organization on the manner in which collocated and distributed design teams categorize, review and search design documents and resolve design misunderstandings were compared to the effects of traditional physical (the pin up walls of project rooms)&digital (shared digital file folders) document organization. Student participant design teams were assembled. These teams were observed organizing a provided set of design documents and develop a design solution as a team using either tag-based or traditional physical or digital document organization. Team members were given retrieval tests to compare search times between methods of document organization. User feedback on organization preferences were collected and used to develop a conceptual prototype of a document organization interface supportive of the multidisciplinary design process. Though the quantitative results did no clearly favor tag-based organization, observational results and user comments were in support of the capabilities tag-based organization provides.
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