How Does Contextual Design Help in Understanding User Needs and Requirement?

admin 0

How Does Contextual Design Help

User needs are determined by the context in which a product will be used. Contextual Design takes into account the physical (where, in the case of digital products, a person will use the product), social (how it fits into their work and social life) and cultural (the larger societal norms that influence the way they behave). The method is extremely user-focused and focuses on gathering rich data via contextual interviews with users to better understand how a product is used.

In Contextual Design, the first step is conducting field interviews with users in their own environment. These are not standard question-and-answer interviews; instead the researcher shadows the user in their everyday work and asks questions only when necessary. This is similar to an anthropological approach to interviews and will give a more realistic picture of how a product is used in the real world.

The goal of the field interview is to reveal the tacit aspects of a person’s work practice, such as the motivations, workarounds and strategies that they may never articulate but which structure their day-to-day work. Contextual Design interviews also explore the social and cultural context in which a person works, such as their family dynamics, office politics and company culture.

How Does Contextual Design Help in Understanding User Needs and Requirement?

This information can be used to build a persona, which is a detailed and realistic representation of the target audience. This can be helpful for focusing the team on the key people they need to design for, for helping stakeholders segment their market by work practice rather than typical demographics and for clarifying branding and prioritization. Personas can also be useful for bringing the users and their needs to life for developers, something that is often a challenge with agile development.

Once the field data is gathered, designers and researchers will come together to share the results and to interpret the field interview data. A variety of workshop exercises, such as affinity mapping and task analysis, will be used to identify patterns and themes in the data. The result is a shared understanding of the users’ work processes, mental models and common behaviors that will help the team to create a usable and effective solution for their customers.

The process is incredibly user-focused and puts the burden of gathering rich user insights on the designers themselves, rather than on external customer research teams. This means that the design team must be highly motivated and skilled in guiding their own learning, if they are to be successful. This can be a challenging proposition for teams, especially in the long run, because it can be difficult to manage a team of highly passionate and opinionated individuals. It is important to have a plan in place for navigating the personalities on a team, deciding who will be your Gas and Oil (who will keep the conversation going) and who will be open to new ideas (your “Yes Men”).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *