PhD Project Work Project June 1, 2020

Co-Designing Collaborative Writing

“With their descriptive nature, guidelines fail to capture such contrasting needs and desires.”

  • Time Frame


  • Collaborators

    Ida Larsen-Ledet

  • Keywords

    Collaborative Writing, Academic Writing, Co-design, Guidelines, Individual Preferences, Trade-offs


This project looks at how collaborative writing takes place in academia. Recent research has indicated that while many tools for collaborative writing exist and continue to be developed, co-writers frequently employ workarounds and cumbersome substitutions to accommodate their writing approaches and collaborative needs. As part of a process to address these issues, we conducted a co-design study on collaborative academic writing with eighteen participants. During a three-stage workshop series, participants discussed needs, frustrations, and desires in their experiences with collaborative writing. These discussions revealed how participants’ different ways of practicing and experiencing collaborative writing entail contrasting needs that are difficult to balance. Based on an analysis of discussions and artifacts from the workshops, we argue that researchers and designers should aim to support diverse practices and propose a protocol for examining and drawing on the contradictions that arise from co-writers’ idiosyncratic preferences.

Involving end-users in the development of a product before it is deployed has great potential to increase the fit between a product and individual users’ needs. While end-users can be directly involved in modifying low-fidelity prototypes, they are left out when it comes to high-fidelity interactive prototypes—in part because these cannot be modified directly or require time-consuming edit-compile-run cycles. High-fidelity prototypes, however, are more engaging for users. We created a reprogrammable high-fidelity prototype and explored its use in short-term prototyping workshops with end-user developers, i.e. end-users with programming experience, in the domain of collaborative writing. We report observations and pitfalls, and distill four lessons learned into guidelines on how to use reprogrammable high-fidelity prototypes with end-users in contexts with limited resources. Our experiences demonstrate, among other things, that reprogrammable high-fidelity prototypes are difficult to work with—even for experienced programmers—and emphasize the need for careful attention to guiding participants, time for familiarization, and catering to multiple levels of programming experience.


Marcel Borowski and Ida Larsen-Ledet 2021. Lessons Learned from Using Reprogrammable Prototypes with End-User Developers. In International Symposium on End User Developments (IS-EUD ’21). DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79840-6_9. PDF.

Ida Larsen-Ledet and Marcel Borowski. 2020. “It Looks Like You Don’t Agree”: Idiosyncratic Practices and Preferences in Collaborative Writing. In Proceedings of the 32nd Australian Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (OzCHI ’20). DOI: 10.1145/3441000.3441032. PDF.


Overview of the Malleable Word Processor Prototype

OzCHI 2020 Conference Presentation by Ida Larsen-Ledet