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Armstrong et al workshop

Participatory Design of Internet Environments and Web-Enabled Products and Services

Meg Armstrong, Jeanette Blomberg, Jamie Haruch and Carrie Yury

Sapient Corporation

2300 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

{marmstrong, jblomberg, jharuch, cyury}



The Internet is becoming ubiquitous in the everyday work and home lives of people throughout the developed world. Designing web-enabled products, services, and environments with active participation of the intended users presents new opportunities and challenges. This workshop is intended for those who are interested in exploring strategies, techniques, dilemmas and exigencies associated with the participatory design of interactive web sites and applications. The experiences and perspectives of Sapient’s Experience Modeling group will provide the starting point for our discussion.


Internet, online interactions, interactive products and services, local/global.


Today it is almost axiomatic that a user perspective is necessary for the successful design of interactive experiences and web-enabled products and services. However, there is great deal of variability in what is thought to be required to provide such a user perspective and to what degree direct user participation is essential. The workshop presenters have been exploring this issue together since Sapient’s acquisition of Elab in October of 1999. At that time the experiences of Sapient’s existing user research group, Elab, and Xerox PARC’s Work Practice and Technology group were joined through the creation of the Experience Modeling discipline at Sapient. The Experience Modeling group has been involved over the last year in the design of internet business strategies, brand positionings and interactive web sites for numerous clients in the financial services, manufacturing, retail, entertainment and public sector markets. The day-to-day realities of providing a user perspective on the design of commercially viable internet-enabled products, services and environments informs our deliberations and reflections.

Issues of Concern

Issues to be explored include:

  • Identifying the user within distributed communities of users
  • Understanding the tradeoffs in adopting local verses global perspectives in the design of interactive web sites
  • Recognizing connections between online and offline interactions
  • Creating of online and offline experiences that reflect regional and cultural differences and interests
  • Supporting continuing design and personalization of the interactive experience
  • Designing internet interactions that support the creation of public, private and community spaces
  • Monitoring online interactions for research purposes and as integral to the web application
  • Balancing the interests of clients, consumers, users, colleagues, and the larger society

In addition, we will review the participatory research and design tools and techniques we've developed and elaborated over the last year in relation to our positioning as the Experience Modeling research group within Sapient Corporation and will solicit descriptions of tools and techniques that workshop participants have found useful.

Workshop Organization

The workshop will include presentations by the workshop presenters and interactive explorations with workshop participants of the most pressing issues for participants. Workshop participants will be asked to bring their own experiences, issues and questions to these explorations.


Meg Armstrong and Carrie Yury are senior researchers in the Experience Modeling group at Sapient Corporation. Before becoming part of the Experience Modeling group they were researchers at Elab where they helped develop innovative, ethnographically-based tools and techniques to inform product design, brand positioning and business strategies. Jamie Haruch is a senior experience architect in the Experience Modeling group. Prior to joining the Experience Modeling group he was a senior user researcher at Sapient where he brought a user perspective to the design of e-commerce web sites. Jeanette Blomberg is Experience Modeling director at Sapient and Professor of Human Work Science at the University of Karlskrona/Ronneby. Before joining Sapient she was a founding member of the Work Practice and Technology group at Xerox PARC where her research focused on social aspects of technology production and use, ethnographically-based design, and participatory and work-oriented design.


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