Contextual design (CD) is a user-centered design process developed by Hugh Beyer and Karen Holtzblatt. It incorporates ethnographic methods for gathering. Karen Holtzblatt, Hugh Beyer, A tool supporting capture and analysis of field research data using the contextual design methodology, CHI ‘ The authors developed Contextual Design, the method discussed here, through their work with teams struggling to design products and internal systems.

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The User Environment Design shows the structure of the system as experienced by the user. Work models make work practice – how users approach their work – explicit, public, and sharable. Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. At least that’s what Steve Jobs would say: The Contextual Design CD process encourages holistic, systemic design — looking at the whole user work and life context and responding with an integrated concept that broadly supports user activities.

It’s also intangible – there has traditionally been no good way to write down or talk about work practice. The interviewer actively questions the user and partners with them to draw out and understand their work practice in detail. Artifacts reveal how people think about their work – the concepts they use and how they organize them to get the work done. The Physical Model shows the physical environment as it supports or gets in the way of the work.

Contextual Design begins with contextual inquirywhere software developers interview users and attempt to understand the way they conextual. East Dane Designer Men’s Fashion. The task may be handed off between users, and may be supported by several systems operating together; the storyboard ensures the task remains coherent across these boundaries.


Where will we sesign this elusive breakthrough? Understanding the current way of working, its structure and holtzbltat complete workflow helps the design team address the problems and design the new workflow. And so Contextual Design prescribes interviews that are not pure ethnographic observations, but involve the user in discussion and reflection on their own actions, intents, and values. For example, there are obviously work practices associated with business pursuits like office work, but there are also “work practices” associated with life events such as making purchases as a consumer, driving an automobile, playing music and even watching television.

This enables the team to see the overall structure of the solution and ensure its coherence. This is critical – paper prototype iterations ensure the team is developing the right design, that holtzbaltt is solving real user problems.

Karen, a psychologist by training, and Hugh, a developer, recognized the need for a coherent and structured design process that could integrate useful practices from their respective fields, and make it contextusl accessible and actionable to design teams in commercial settings.

And storyboards, the User Environment Design, and paper prototypes develop and validate the right function to be included in user stories for Agile release planning.

Contextual design

ManningHarley The vision desifn a story of how customers will do their work in the new world the team invents. The purpose of the conversation is to reveal and articulate the nature of the user’s work practice, and this purpose is understood and shared by both participants.

Visioning sets the project direction and defines what kind of solution to provide. EhnPelle Holtzblatt scaled down this method for software, using hand-drawn user interfaces on sticky notes to represent a proposed design and working through the user’s own tasks, in their own workplaces, to explore the usefulness of the design.


Other processes may have similar investigative techniques, but the “pithiness” that engineers, business analysis, and marketing people usually associate with qualitative research disappears with this process.

As Johan Redstrom would say, we are now trying to design our users 5. This immersion in the data for an extended period of time helps teams see the broad scope of a problem quickly and encourages a paradigm shift of thought rather than assimilation of ideas.

Instead, a contextual interviewer observes users as they work and inquires into the users’ actions as they unfold to understand their motivations and strategy.

Contextual Design | The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.

How can we help you create a successful product? The data walking session is followed by a group visioning session during which the visioning team generates a variety of new product concepts by telling stories of different usage scenarios based on the data collected.

The all-too-human side of human factors can be messy, hard, and delay gratification. Portion of an Affinity Diagram. Preece What a wonderful lucid and succinct description of a contextual design. Apprenticing with beye Customer. Together, designer and user would modify the prototype in the moment to eliminate problems and add needed function. These physical representations in Contextual Design are described in the next section.

Data from each interview is analyzed and key issues and insights are captured.

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