A productivity application enables tasks that are based on the organization and manipulation of detailed information. People use productivity applications to accomplish important tasks. Mail is a good example of a productivity application.
Seriousness of purpose does not mean that productivity applications should attempt to appear serious by providing a dry, uninspiring user experience, but it does mean that users appreciate a streamlined approach that does not hinder them. To this end, successful productivity applications keep the user experience focused on the task, so people can quickly find what they need, easily perform the necessary actions, complete the task, and move on to something else.
Productivity applications often organize user data hierarchically. In this way, people can find information by making progressively more specific choices until they arrive at the desired level of detail. iOS provides table elements that make this process extremely efficient on iOS devices. Figure shows an example of this type of data organization.
Productivity applications tend to organize information hierarchically
Typically, the user interaction model in a productivity application consists of:
- Organizing the list
- Adding to and subtracting from the list
- Drilling down through successive levels of detail until the desired level is reached, then performing tasks with the information on that level
Productivity applications tend to use multiple views, usually displaying one level of the hierarchy per view. The user interface tends to be simple, uncluttered, and composed of standard views and controls. Productivity applications do not tend to customize the interface much, because the focus is on the information and the task, and not as much on the environment or the experience.
Among all types of iPhone applications, a productivity application is the most likely to supply preferences, or settings, the user can specify in the Settings application. This is because productivity applications work with lots of information and, potentially, many ways to access and manage it. It’s important to emphasize, however, that the user should seldom need to change these settings, so the settings should not target simple configuration changes that could be handled in the main user interface.