Aarhus University Seal

Challenges and Opportunities in the Design of Digital Tools for Distributed Affinity Diagramming

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Affinity diagramming is an oft-used sense-making technique in design research and practice to analyze qualitative data, utilizing a large number of sticky notes on walls. Over the past two decades, several digital tools have been tried and tested to augment or even replace the physical affinity diagramming process. Even so, the analog process usually prevails. We developed an online collab- oration tool specifically tailored toward affinity diagramming to explore the challenges and opportunities of such a system in the particular case where the distributed teams do not have access to co-located settings. Here, we present a user experience study of five groups (dyads) of students based on a one-hour diagramming task under remote observation, followed by semi-structured interviews. Our study contributes three distinct insights to inform future work, namely that digital affinity diagrams 1) reduce the awareness of co-participants’ actions, 2) provide fewer cues about ownership and use than physical diagrams, and 3) save time, improve manipula- tion, and overview. We end with a discussion of the challenges and opportunities for the design of digital tools for distributed teams involved in sense-making tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 32nd European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics (ECCE 2021)
EditorsPatrizia Marti, Oronzo Parlangeli, Annamaria Recupero
Number of pages5
Place of publicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication yearApr 2021
Article number11
ISBN (print)978-1-4503-8757-6
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021
EventEuropean Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics - Siena, Italy
Duration: 26 Apr 202129 Apr 2021


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics

    Research areas

  • Affinity diagramming, Qualitative analysis, Global virtual teams, Sense-making

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 199948027