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Contextual Inquiry

Contextual Inquiry

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Contextual Inquiry

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  1. 213: User Interface Design and Development Contextual Inquiry Lecture #3 - January 27th, 2009

  2. Today’s Outline • Introduction to CI • Principles of CI • Work Models • Assignments

  3. Contextual Inquiry “Contextual Design makes data gathering from the customer the base criterion for deciding what the system should do…” “The core premise of Contextual Inquiry is very simple: go where the customer works, observe the customer as he or she works, and talk to the customer about the work. Do that, and you can’t help but gain a better understanding of your customer.” Source: Beyer and Holtzblatt, Contextual Design

  4. Making Change Palatable “[S]ystems must match the user’s model closely enough that the user can make the transition…” Even if a new technology is advantageous, it will not be adopted if it is too disruptive to current practice Example of the slow transition from typewriters to word processors

  5. Design from Data “The user is not like us…” We need data to understand the user and his/her work Marketing only provides a high-level business case, not specific details about their current practice

  6. Benefits of Data Requires design team to agree on common observations and their representation Reveals hidden aspects of work, that may be implicit in the user’s understanding Contextual Inquiry is a method for gathering and representing data about the user and his/her work

  7. Principles of CI CONTEXT - See the work where it unfolds PARTNERSHIP - Make yourself and the user collaborators in understanding the work INTERPRETATION - Assigning meaning to design team’s observations FOCUS - Shared starting point, orienting the team and user towards a common goal Source: Beyer and Holtzblatt, Contextual Design

  8. Context

  9. Summary vs. Ongoing Experience Retrospective accounts are often summaries “I got to work, checked my email and had a cup of coffee” By being present in the time and place of activity, we can access much richer data from ongoing activities “I got to work, looked over my email, answered messages from my boss, decided to have some coffee, walked to the coffee machine, found there was no coffee, so I made coffee…

  10. Abstract vs. Concrete Data Humans also have a tendency to abstract - save time, and convey points they feel are important This reduces amount and quality of data in CI Leaning back, Staring at the ceiling are clues that user is providing abstract description Leaning forward, Point at artifacts are being concrete Focus on real tasks and artifacts

  11. Master / Apprentice Model You are the Apprentice; the Customer is the Master - keeps investigator humble, and customer in charge Investigator is not afraid to ask questions Teaching while doing means user doesn’t have to think in advance what to convey Allows discovery of subtle details, which may be overlooked in “canned” discussion Reduces need for a formal set of interview questions

  12. Being a Good “Apprentice” Be a keen observer Don’t be afraid to ask questions Maintain an attitude of inquiry and learning Admire the Master as an expert in his/her work Aspire to see the World as they do Adapted from Jake Wobbrock

  13. Withdrawal and Return The researcher observes something that he/she would like to dig deeper about “Is there a reason you paused there?” The researcher asks about this, and the pair withdraw momentarily from the task at hand The pair discuss the researcher’s question After, participant returns to the task at hand Adapted from Jake Wobbrock

  14. What to Look For Workarounds Mismatch between what people say and do Offhand, under the breath comments Sighs Rolling of eyes Confessions Adapted from Jake Wobbrock

  15. Vet your Design Ideas CI is also a fine time to get initial feedback on design ideas “If you had a technology that did X, would that solve this problem?” Designers will want to do this anyway, so might as well support it Users will quickly understand the intent of your suggestion, and will be able to provide direct feedback This will also demonstrate your understanding of the problem, providing opportunity for brainstorming and/or clarification

  16. Avoid other Relationships Interviewer / Interviewee - Not based on context or ongoing activities Expert / Novice - You are not the expert in the user’s work, they are! Guest / Host - You shouldn’t be too afraid of asking the wrong question

  17. Interpretation

  18. Check your Interpretations It is good to check your interpretations to make sure they are accurate “I saw you just do X. Is that because of Y?” “I believe X. Is that correct?” As long as you check your interpretations in-context, participants will respond accurately Outside of context, they may be more inclined to agree or answer in generalities rather than specifics Adapted from Jake Wobbrock

  19. Stages of a Contextual Interview Interview / Warm Up Transition Observe Behavior Share Interpretation Refine Interpretation Wrap-up Adapted from Jake Wobbrock

  20. Focus

  21. Establish a Focus Establishing a project focus keeps project team aligned towards relevant questions Asking the customer about whether they bring an umbrella to work probably wouldn’t be helpful for designing a word processor Often different team members will have a slightly different focus based on their experience and interests Differences are reconciled during group interpretation

  22. 7 Ways to Screw up a CI Not being inquisitive/nosy enough Overly disrupting the task Turning it into a regular interview Failing to respect your participants Failing to observe and take good notes Focusing on the wrong details Slipping into abstraction Adapted from Jake Wobbrock

  23. Work Models

  24. Group Interpretation A maximum of 48 hours after the interview, group interpretation is conducted Focusing on one interview at a time, each design team member is allowed to ask questions of the interviewer The outputs of this meeting are: A sequence of notes, including observations, questions, design ideas and breakdowns, indexed by user number (important to keep anonymous) A set of work models (see following)

  25. Roles during Group Interpretation Interviewer - conducted the interview Work Modelers - generate work models Recorder - take notes Moderator - run the session Participants - ask questions, make observations Rat-hole Watcher - avoids breaking protocol or wasting time

  26. Work Models Work models are a graphical way of representing the result of a CI Generated during group interpretation session, after primary data collection A concrete set of deliverables allowing the design team to agree upon a shared understanding and representation Distills the important contextual aspects of the design scenario

  27. Five Kinds of Work Models FLOW - Direction of communication and coordination SEQUENCE - Detailed sequence of work steps ARTIFACT - Physical objects that support the work CULTURE - External influences PHYSICAL - Layout of the work environment Adapted from Jake Wobbrock

  28. Flow Model Focuses on the rolesof different users, and how they communicate and coordinate to get work done Each flow model is generated from a specific individual perspective Includes the places where communication happens, the artifacts used for communication, and breakdowns in communication that negatively impact work

  29. Flow Model: Secretary Source: Beyer and Holtzblatt, Contextual Design

  30. Flow Model: Documentation Writer Source: Beyer and Holtzblatt, Contextual Design

  31. Sequence Model “Low-level, step-by-step information on how work is actually done" Includes the intent behind the action, the trigger that led the user to this action, and breakdowns that create problems Captured at level of detail appropriate for focus of the design team

  32. Sequence Model: E-mail Triage Source: Beyer and Holtzblatt, Contextual Design

  33. Artifact Model “An artifact model is a drawing or photocopy of the artifact, complete with any handwritten notes” Documents physical artifacts used in work During the CI, interviewers should inquire into the structure, content, presentation and usage of the artifact, as well as any breakdowns in its current use

  34. Artifact Model: Personal Calender Source: Beyer and Holtzblatt, Contextual Design

  35. Cultural Model “Work takes place in a culture, which defines expectations, desires, policies, values, and the whole approach people take to work” Revealed in the language used to describe work, the toneof the place, the policies, and the influence of the overall organization Influencersare the individuals, formal groups or abstract principles that influence the work of specific people

  36. Cultural Model: Developer Source: Beyer and Holtzblatt, Contextual Design

  37. Physical Model Documents the physical environment where work happens Includes the organization of space, the grouping of people, and their movement in the space Focuses on aspects relevant to the work / focus, and not on complete fidelity

  38. Physical Model: Computer Lab Source: Beyer and Holtzblatt, Contextual Design

  39. Affinity Diagrams Affinity Diagrams are generated during group session Each observation/idea/note is copied to a post-it Notes are hierarchically organized into themes, based on the focus of the project Usually done in a chaotic fashion, with design team members running back and forth with post-its and yelling ideas to each other

  40. Source:

  41. Consolidating Work Models Consolidating models across different users and interviews allows the team to see patterns Some observations may be missed - by consolidating several interviews, we can achieve better coverage Reduces likelihood of bias by one idiosyncratic user or interview Only done for important and/or relevant models

  42. Example: Consolidating the Flow Model Select 6-9 flow models List responsibilities and roles of each person, group and place Group similar roles, provide a generic name List the abstracted responsibilities for each List the abstracted communications and artifacts used between each Include any observed breakdowns Go back to individual flow models, and include any important roles, responsibilities or flows not covered

  43. Consolidating Work Models

  44. Assignments

  45. Assignment 0: Focus Form a Group (2-4 people) Choose a Project Focus Identify User / Stakeholder categories Identify Project Mentor(s) Deadline is 2/2 at 11:59PM More details on course home page Will take a straw poll in the next class

  46. Project Topics • Social Media for California Farmers • Health Records for Migrant Workers • Information, Communications & Coffee • Information and Training for Homeless • Squash & Vine • Meta-Mouse for Education • Improved Data Management for Health • Kuali Student Project

  47. Assignment 1: Observation Conduct 2-5 Contextual Interviews Make an Affinity Diagram Generate Five Work Models Generate Initial Scenarios and Personas Write it up and turn it in! Deadline is 2/16 at 11:59PM More details on course home page

  48. In-class Exercise FOCUS: You are enlisted to develop an improved tool for giving class presentations Who are your users? Where is the workplace? During the next class, I will be your interview subject. Come prepared to conduct a contextual interview, and to take notes (bring index cards or a small notepad)