Criteria for effective groupware


"Criteria for effective groupware" was the title of a panel organised by Andrew Monk and Jean Scholtz at CHI'96 in Vancouver. The panel was to discuss what makes for effective, and ineffective, groupware. After the panelists (Bill Buxton, David Frohlich, Sara Bly and Steve Whittaker) had briefly talked about their criteria the audience was asked to suggest additional citeria, drawn from their own personal experiences with groupware. They did this by completing a form. This asked them for: (i) a name for their criterion; (ii) an example of the problems that arise if the problem is not met, and (iii) example of the kinds of inventions, features or strategies that can meet this criterion.

These pages include all the forms that we got (and could read!) They are numbered and anonymous. We have gathered them together in categories using a scheme described below. To see the orginal text from the forms click on one of categories in the scheme and then one of the numbers in the text.

People had a lot of trouble making up a good title for the criterion (well they did'nt have a lot of time to think!) but the further explanation generally made clear the point. On occasions we have added words [in brackets like this] to make it easier to read or when guessing an illegible word.

The criteria - a scheme

The criteria have been grouped into three broad categories: Benefit - Individual and Group acceptance ; Critical Mass, and System - Minimize user effort (Usability).
Click on one of these categories to see the criteria suggested

The picture below shows how the categories might be thought to relate to each other.

1. There is no benefit for individual or group if there are insufficient people connected (ref:Whittaker).
2. People will not connect unless they can see individual benefit (ref:Frohlich).
3. Benefit for individual and group depends on ease-of-use and ease-of-learning(ref: Bly, Buxton).
4. Perceived difficulty-of-use or difficulty-of-learning will deter people from connection.

(Back) to CHI'96 proceedings


These web pages were created by:

Mioko Ambe (Sony Human Interface Laboratory, Tokyo),

Andrew Monk
(University of York, UK) and

Jean Scholtz,

UserWorks, Inc. 2092 Gaither Road, Suite 200 Rockville, MD 20850; 1-301-320-7898;

Please address enquiries to:
Andrew Monk, Department of Psychology, University of York, York. UK. YO1 5DD.
Tel: 0904 433148, Fax (+44) 0904 433181