Primary Posture Applications
We use a multitude of applications per day. Each of them captures some level of attention and interaction. Alan Cooper coined the term Application posture, with the mainly used application being the sovereign application. I personally like the term primary posture application better and will use it in this post
Since users spend most of their time in it, there's a willingness to become "senior intermediate experts". Shortcuts are learned, workflows get shared and a deeper understanding is desired. Depending on the nature of your work, very different application are your primary
- for a graphic desiger it might be GIMP or Inkscape
- a vlogger spends lot of time in OBS
- The controllers spend their days in spreadsheets
- The sales manager in CRM
- Operations is fond of ERP
- eMail and chat are strong contenders too
- the Scrum master lives in Jira, while developers on the command-line and IDE
Primary posture by association
To cover anything else, aggregators were used. Trailblazer here was the Lotus Notes Client: One did everything in Notes, the main job and all the auxiliary and transient would be there. This consistency was attempted to recreate using portals and intranets (for inspiration what intranets can achieve, head over to The Nielsen Norman Group).
You need to complete a task fast and want effortless results. An auxiliary posture helps with that. Adding an appointment in a calendar, booking a ride share, filing tax returns.
Auxiliary applications with a primary posture
One's primary application is another's auxiliary. This is a huge problem especially for bespoke applications. Typically they are comissioned by departments who will use them in "primary posture" (e.g. the leave management system gets commissioned by HR). The leave administrator will happily learn all bells and whistles, while mortal users are irritated by the complexity. I recall working on a leave management system where the initial application form had over 30 fields to cover all eventualities. We were able to convince the application owner to take a 2 form approach: the initial form had: coming, going, type of leave and optional "on behalf". 2 buttons were offered: "more" and "submit". "More" would lead to the 30+ fields form. We monitored usage for 6 month. Not a single time the larger form was submitted.
To avoid the primary auxiliary trap, a clear API that separates UI from business logic helps. It allows to build smaller front-ends that are auxiliary in nature but don't compromize integrity. OpenAPI is your friend