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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 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 key one being that while usability testing is good for identifying usability problems that when remedied create incremental improvements, it does not facilitate the large-scale design creativity needed to develop novel systems that offer users an engaging experience.

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.

This is refreshing to hear because although technology has always been transformative, there was a slight naivety to it in the past: Designs created through CD can be used to develop products for new markets, drive product roadmaps, and define technical specifications for specific products. This recent push toward design-led innovation is accompanied by the notion that anything that slows down or pollutes our game-changing design vision is at least extraneous, and at worst severely detrimental to our success in the market.

Contextual design

Completed base levels can also be tested using Contextual Inquiry techniques, and the results used to refine the direction of the project.

They talk too much or not enoughsay crazy stuff, and definitely slow things down. Articulate what matters about the work together. Read reviews that mention contextual design ideas software process authors techniques user. What a wonderful lucid and succinct description of a contextual design. Testing the design ideas with paper prototypes or even with more sophisticated interactive prototypes before the implementation phase helps the designers communicate with users about the new system and develop the design further.


It shows each part of the system, how it supports the user’s work, exactly what function is available in that part, and how the user gets to and from other parts of the system – without tying this structure to any particular user interface. And the simpler a testing process is, the more time is available for multiple iterations to work out the detailed design with users.

Contextual Design provides proven techniques for collecting and using user knowledge which can be adopted by Agile teams.


But, Agile teams often struggle to include a reliable customer voice, something Agile methods assume they can do. Automotive design Automotive suspension design CMF design Corrugated box design Electric guitar design Furniture design Sustainable Hardware interface design Motorcycle design Packaging and labeling Photographic lens design Product design Production design Sensory design Service design.

The thinking behind Contextual Design’s iterative prototyping evolved in conjunction with, and influenced, the development of participatory design techniques in the ‘s and ‘s Schuler and Namioka The storyboards ensure coherence of individual holtzbatt, but the new system must have the appropriate structure to support a natural flow of work through the system beyet matter what task the user is doing.

Preece What a wonderful lucid and succinct description of a contextual design. Once the structure and interaction design are largely stable, the team can develop and test interaction and visual design options with users. CarrollJohn M. Contfxtual page was last edited on 1 Augustat Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. By using this site, you agree contwxtual the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Log in Join our community Join us. Where will we find this elusive breakthrough? The Sequence Model shows the detailed steps performed to accomplish each task important to the work.

Contextual Design – InContext Design

The key difference between supporting an Agile team and ddsign waterfall development is that for an Agile project, the above steps are all that need be done. And when I talk to design researchers at companies like Frog, IDEO, Artefact, or other big thinking consultancies, they are hanging out with the customer. It’s generally accepted that the sooner problems are found, the less it costs to fix them. Although based on theories from several disciplines, including anthropology, psychology and design, Contextual Design was designed for practical application with commercial design teams.


The affinity diagram is a bottom-up method. Ideally, the qualitative data provided by contextual inquiry would be augmented with quantitative data provided through research methods such as surveys.

Conextual here is the rub: Five different models provide five perspectives on how work is done:. The structure that Contextual Design offers design teams helps bring some amount of control ho,tzblatt this activity.

The User Environment Design shows the structure of the system as experienced by the user. Contextual Design describes another worthwhile software engineering method, one that places the user or customer at the forefront of the software design beher from beginning to end.

Contextual Design can and should be integrated into a whole product concepting and initiation process. Contextual Design can play a key role in identifying the most important problems to solve, prioritizing the rollout of the solution, maintaining coherence of the system vision, and ensuring that as parts are rolled out iteratively bwyer inevitable engineering tradeoffs do not degrade the usability of the system.

A storyboard is represented as a sequence of “freeze-frame” sketches or cells, each one capturing one step in the overall task. Designing for a Dollar a Day.

Customer-focused design data in a large, multi-site organization. Learn more about our process. The use of paper prototypes is described in many resources, including Carolyn Snyder’s book on the subject Snyder Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. Some have been referenced below, others can be found on the InContext website at: The comments on readability may have some merit, but honestly it’s a pretty good read, with key callouts in the margins, etc.

Contextual Design has also been applied to the design of digital libraries and other learning technologies NotessNotess Data from each interview is analyzed and key issues and insights are captured. Portion of Consolidated Sequence Model.