Where Do Web Sites Come From? Capturing and Interacting with Design History


Reflecting the past, one can know the future. To achieve that, the authors developed a history system that can help decision makers, students, designers, and their successors with creation, revision, and reflection for collaborative, early-stage information design. More specifically, the work is for a web design tool the authors proposed in previous studies. In this system, design history is accessed through three mechanisms: main timeline, local timeline and synopsis view. The main timeline is a visually navigable set of design thumbnails organized on a timeline with branched history along side of it. The local timeline enables users to see, in the actual design, a history with just the actions relating to an individual object in the design. The synopsis view enables post-design review of key bookmarks. These bookmarked states can be annotated with text, and printed as hard copy for easy portability and sharing. This system is informally demonstrated and evaluated in a lab study with six professionals. The authors claimed that this history system enhances the design process itself, and provides new opportunities for reasoning about the design of complex artifacts.


Personally, I don’t really like this paper. First of all, it uses a lot of terms and phrases that require a solid background in design and human centered design, such as first-class citizens or Post-it notes. Some of the terms are even worse, which is based on the authors previous system Designer’s Outpost. I really find a hard time to read and interpret this paper. As a direct result, it took me quite some time to finish reading and summarizing the paper than any other reading assignments.

Secondly, the motivation is not well explained either. It was merely mentioned in the first THREE sentences of Introduction and was not convincing enough. It almost appears to me that the authors observed some necessity in their Designer’s Outpost and then wend down the road. But this could also be caused by my lack of background in UI design research.

Last, even for an informal evaluation, I find it hard to swallow qualitative results from professionals. Most noticeably, I couldn’t find any description about the demographic background of the “participants” or their relation to the lab. I have doubt in the validity of the evaluation the authors provided.


To address the previous questions, I have for the above reasons, what could the author do?

Or how could be the case that reviewers were not complaining?