The Interaction Table is thought to be used in three main steps that follow a general articulation of the design process in “Exploring Opportunities”, “PSS Idea Development” and PSS Development”, but, given the format, it can be applied differently depending on the situation and needs of the design process.
In this phase, the PSS tentative ideas are partially described visualising and briefly describing an ideal PSS interaction from the user point of view. This simple representation should visualise the core performance that the PSS is offering and give a hint of how the user could interact with the future PSS.
The Interaction Table can be simply sketched or elaborated filling Excel cells with images (photos or sketches) and brief descriptions as it is shown in the Figure 1.
Figure 1: Example of draft Interaction Table
PSS Idea Development
In this phase, the selected PSS idea is further developed in terms of core and added-value functionalities and in terms of potential user interaction modes with the PSS. Once that designers, considering the existing or imagined user profiles, have defined different interaction goals/benefits and the corresponding potential user interaction paths, the Interaction table can help the project team to:
- Sketch or briefly describe, within the Excel cells, the main actions that user has to carry out to reach his/her service goal;
- Clearly distinguish and describe the user and the system role within each user action (eventually underlining required back office and support activities);
- Propose different interaction modes on how and with what kind of devices the single inter-action can be carried out (see example in Figure 2).
Figure 2: Example of detailed Interaction table. As it is evident, the lines of the Excel file are coloured in different ways in order to distinguish the main voices: system role, interaction description and visualisation, user role and the interaction mode.
Once the PSS idea has been accepted and the user interaction paths and modes selected, the PSS Development requires a deeper and more detailed description and visualisation of the different possible user interactions with the PSS in order to provide the required information for its implementation.
The interaction table supports this process as follows:
- each PSS action is further exploded into interaction steps, that should be carried out in order to fulfil the objective of the single action; this is possible working on parallel Excell spreadsheets each representing a single PSS action;
- the description of the system role is further detailed introducing other voices in the Interaction table: introducing the “line of visibility” is possible to distinguish front office tasks from the back office ones; adding the “internal interaction line” is possible to distinguish the back office tasks from support processes (carried out in a separate way from the PSS interaction process), while the “interaction lines” now separates the user tasks from the front office ones. This representation helps the project team to work in a parallel way on the PSS interface and on the PSS organisation issues;
- the PSS interaction is further detailed considering all the components that should mediate/support and characterise the visible part of the PSS action: tools (support products or signs), interaction rules (the PSS rules that guide how the interaction should happen), required competencies (kind of competencies that both the user and the contact person should have in order to be able to interact), supplied information (necessary information, both for the user and for the staff, that should be available in the service place or provided during the interaction), context (characteristics of the environment that can influence or are connected to the course of action).
Figure 3: Example of final Interaction table.
As shown in the Figure 3 the descriptions of the interaction components which are related to a specific interacting person, are marked by an abbreviation like DA that stays for the Diet advisor or M that stays for the Food delivery Management, etc.
· Use of Excel comments as design flags.
As shown in the Figure 3 Excel gives the possibility to attach comments to the single cells (in the example it is a sustainability suggestion). This helps the design team to build a work-in-progress document where everyone can add suggestions or design issues. In particular the “flags” could be used to underline:
· Activity to be further developed in a separate way (like support processes);
· Interaction components just suggested but that should be designed (like tools, procedures, staff education, etc.);
· Possible conflicts, obligations, suggestions derived from existing conditions, sustainability evaluation or design team members’ specific competencies;
· Quality target to be reached during the PSS supply (time, behavioural, etc.)