Most designers collect sketches, drawings and photos over time and use them as inspirational material for new projects. Typically, people spread out their collections on tabletop surfaces to look for useful material. As a designer’s collection of visual material grows, they tend to pile them into loosely structured groups and leave them on a work surface. Piles of artifacts, therefore, can create a cluttered desk and yet, when any change is made to the apparent muddle of material, serious disruptions often occur to workflow.
We first identify three tasks that must be supported by a digital pile—navigation, reorganisation and repositioning. We then present three interaction techniques—called HoverDeck, DragDeck and ExpandPile that meet these requirements. The techniques allow users to easily browse the piles, and also allow them to move elements between and within piles in an ad-hoc manner.