A major telecom company was introducing a consumer-oriented Internet service, and came to us to explore what that service might be like a few releases down the road. They were particularly interested in how a wide range of messaging and collaboration technologies could be presented to consumers into a single, unified interface -- one that supported the individual strengths of the different messaging systems, yet maintained a consistent design and interaction style. We worked with their product and research staff to prototype a web-based interface to e-mail, voice mail, instant messaging, shared file storage, and search.

The service's Home page serves as a central access point to the various messaging types, showing new messages that have arrived since the user last visited the page.... continued below

Clicking on the subject of the message takes the user to a new page where the message can viewed (or heard, in the case of voice mail); clicking on the name of the sender provides a quick way to send a new message (of any type) to the person. Other pages are dedicated to each message type, and provide full access to and control over the user's messages of that type.

The service's CommPoint generalizes the notion of "buddy lists" to the current context of multiple messaging types. The telephone, mail, and buddy icons offer easy ways of using the corresponding messaging channel to communicate with the person and, where possible, to indicate whether the person can currently be contacted through that channel. The buddy list analogy is utilized elsewhere the system: if two people agree to a limited sharing of the contents of their calendar or address book, they can be automatically notified when a buddy invites them to a meeting or other event, or when some part of the buddy's contact information changes. Together, these messaging and collaboration techniques provide unique and powerful ways for people to communicate, in both consumer and enterprise settings.

You can read more about this project here.