The four principles of contextual inquiry are: Focus - Plan for the inquiry, based on a clear understanding of your purpose Context - Go to the customer's workplace and watch them do their own work Partnership - Talk to customers about their work and engage them in uncovering unarticulated aspects of work Similar tasks are performed in a diary study: in this case, you allow the user to record what they do in their day-to-day work by themselves. If you’ve taken photos, they can make your findings easier to digest. I don’t really like laptops for recording what’s going on. Usually, the context is purely professional. Always try to conduct the conversation at the subject’s workplace. You don’t need to tell them that they also need it to help them remember as much as they can correctly. If you do it during the introduction, most subjects have already forgotten it by the time it comes to the tasks. For the follow-up, I’d set aside half a day per subject. You will have time in the next phase, the wrapup, to discuss all your interpretations. Difficulty Hard. During participant observation, you go where the work you’re interested in takes place. Instead, find out why their colleagues are there. Indicate what you hope to achieve during the interview and that you expect the participant to correct any misinterpretations you may develop as you learn. Why Conduct Contextual Inquiry . For participant observation, conference rooms should always be an emergency solution, nothing more. You can see the Post-its on the monitor. He authored a successful German how-to manual and regularly speaks at conferences. Salazar combines her background as a developer and education in Computer Science with her user experience expertise, particularly around complex applications, to bring well-rounded insights to her work. You want to develop an app that music fans can use to find and contact each other at major rock concerts or outdoor music events. If you don’t manage it, you might need to break off the observation. One person leads the conversation, while the other stays in the background and takes notes. And finally, you say goodbye and thank them for their time. For me, the exciting thing about participant observation is that you can never plan everything. With every methodology, there are downsides and potential risks to be aware of. It’s less complicated for audio. How many friends do they communicate with during the event and why? That’s why it makes sense to visit trade fairs, conferences or other events that appeal to your target audience or to get in touch with them online on forums and user groups. I take a day for preparation – you need to clarify the issue, write your guide, initiate or implement recruitment, and arrange scheduling. They will often want to know what you’re going to ask. This gives you a clear idea of whether some approaches, requirements, and preferences are special cases or whether they occur among multiple users. Asking them in advance not to tidy up isn’t much use either. And finally, it’s always good to describe surprising facts or funny events. Discuss confidentiality and get approval for any filming or recording you may be doing. First, I interviewed several specialists about how they entered vehicle data for entire fleets of commercial vehicles into the software. Tip: it’s best to get an expert on board to help you run these methods. Which questions could not be answered? The different terms often get confused – if you’re speaking to colleagues or clients, it’s always worth your while clarifying what is meant by the term in question. It’s often better to offer users something that has to do with the subject matter in question. It’s important that you explain this technique to them well at the beginning. Or it might be because they’re unsure, or because they want to get other people involved. They were also crossreferencing a screen from another software tool to fetch several missing pieces of correlating information that needed to be input for each vehicle. Participation observation/contextual inquiry is an indispensable method when redesigning, overhauling or expanding applications. Contextual inquiry is a deep-thinking interview method used to profoundly understand the context of use, where researchers ask users a set of standard questions and then observe and ask questions while participants work in their own environments. It’s even more efficient if you make ‘how might we’ notes instead of the observations. The researcher silently observes the user at work in his or her natural work environment and notes any tools and people that support the user as they work toward task goals. What was noteworthy about your visit to this subject? December 6, 2020. And in the case of the fitness tracker, you can only use a usability test to improve the existing application. Using a notepad instead of a laptop lets you be more mobile, and the person you’re talking to feels less closely observed. In shadowing, as the user researcher, I am the user’s shadow. In most cases, taking notes by hand or on a tablet is sufficient. Then, use the following 4-part structure as a template to guide your approach. This allows the subject to focus entirely on the main speaker and talk to them. Ziele. Finally, in businesses, it is often quite difficult to get permission for video recording. This makes this form of user research easier for the participant as well as for you, the researcher. Select participants that are uniquely qualified and knowledgeable in the area you need to understand. Ideally, you should come up with three to six tasks for the user to show you. Let people listening to your presentation write on Post-its, too – that makes them active listeners, and you’ll have your documentation ready at the end. But if you notice that some tasks were not understood or the user did not perform some tasks at all, you should avoid asking the next subjects the same questions. The main section involves getting the user to demonstrate things as soon as possible. Promised! I was once redesigning the data-entry portion of a software tool used to create auto-insurance policies. One of the greatest strengths of this methodology is that you get to see things you wouldn’t anticipate and uncover low-level details that have become habitual and invisible. This might be because they want to help you, thinking that they can’t answer all the questions. You can turn that into this ‘how might we’ note: how might we show the fill level to the user? Hints as to the office’s culture, with cartoons or motivating slogans on the wall. However, you shouldn’t go to the building site in the same state. 10 years 1 month ago #5719. I always write down the research questions again in the guide: after all, you should always keep them at the back of your mind. It’s true that this is much better than coming up with new ideas just based on your gut feeling. Contextual Inquiries are a blend of interview and observation. After all, you’re not interested in complete answers to your questions. You watch how they research online and how they measure up their kitchen. The problem is that practically nobody reads them. If you’d like to find out demographic details (age, family situation, etc. You should explain the principle a bit like this: imagine I am your student and you are my teacher. What I discovered is that there were several other steps involved that they hadn’t mentioned. The time required for a contextual-inquiry session will depend on the scope context of the work you are intending to understand. The traditional outcome of participant observation is a set of notes. So, for example, if you have an idea for an application but don’t know whether users would have any need for it. What findings do you hope to emerge from the investigation? Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation. It also lets you develop questions from the findings which are as specific as possible and will help you continue to develop the product. The student-teacher principle in action: have the subject explain every step. For more on this method, see Diary studies: a practical guide. After all, the same observations will come up and again, and you won’t have to record them in as much detail. Most subjects don’t mind if you snap one or two photos. The more subjects you have, the quicker you’ll get. But as has already been mentioned, in UX, these kinds of clear distinctions are never really made, so let’s save ourselves the hard work of overly-detailed definitions. Overview. Any additional information in this context will be much appreciated. The advantages of participant observation are: Unlike in an in-depth interview, you can tell what the user is doing straight away during participant observation/contextual inquiry. If you don’t manage it, ask if you can at least see their workplace at the end. Researchers use contextual inquiry to observe what users do and how they do it, e.g. Some colleagues also make a distinction between these methods and shadowing. Participant observation/contextual inquiry is always worthwhile whenever you want to find out more about users. Let’s say that the subject takes you into a laboratory that looks like the kind of thing you only thought existed in science fiction films. We filter through our conscious or unconscious choice. People attempt to summarize their processes, but important details like reasoning, motivation, and underlying mental models are left out of this summary, leaving researchers with only a superficial understanding of the users’ approach to the activity. When you’re developing new product ideas, you might not have any contact with your target audience. However, user interviews and focus groups are only of limited use for obtaining new ideas and finding out how people actually behave. But try to get your subjects to turn up alone. Ideally, this shouldn’t be the case, as all observations should be comparable. It’s also important that they understand that you would like to hold the conversation in the exact place that they perform the activity. So you go with a couple of music fans to the next outdoor event. They were either not aware or did not trust that the data was saved. So, for instance, if you’re observing the use of a large machine that three people always work on together, there should also be three people present during your participant observation. AEIOU provides a template for observing contextual inquiries and collecting qualitative data. You don't usually give the user tasks or scenarios.To understand what a user is doing or thinking you can ask questions as the user navigates the site. Its name describes exactly what makes it valuable — inquiry in context: Contextual inquiry is useful for many domains, but it is especially well-suited for understanding users’ interactions with complex systems and in-depth processes, as well as the point of view of expert users. Take these photos, put them in a (PowerPoint) presentation and write a few key points next to each one. That means you don’t need to follow anyone around – but there’s more work involved for you in preparing and following up these kinds of diary studies. advertise your idea and recruit subjects for participant observation. Instead, you should try to get the subject to supply the right equipment for both of you. That helps you avoid spending your valuable time with the subject on topics that aren’t that important. I have no idea how people do this task and you want to explain it to me so I could do it myself tomorrow. The participant observation method comes from ethnology. How to write a public art essay. All three of the specialists I interviewed reported copying large batches of vehicle data from a spreadsheet and pasting it into a data table within the software interface. There is one exception: if the work that you’re interested in is done by multiple people working together on a day-to-day basis. Summary: Through observation and collaborative interpretation, contextual inquiry uncovers hidden insights about customer’s work that may not be available through other research methods. Making an audio recording of the conversation is an option, particularly if you’re alone and don’t have anyone taking notes. Take charge of everything: explain to the subject that you need everything to help you picture things. That’s why UX experts like this method so much: it lets us see what people really do, rather than being dependent on people remembering what they’ve done and correctly reporting it to us. Contextual Inquiry involves interviewing and observing someone as they work in their own environment. That’s a shame because you actually want to get to know their real day-to-day life. There are no strict specifications: even with three subjects, you’ll gather important information. So, you visit a few people who are currently looking to buy a new kitchen. Is there a clear answer across all the visits? If you know what you want to get out of it, you can set about structuring your visit to the user. Copyright © 1998-2020 Nielsen Norman Group, All Rights Reserved. Done during the contextual inquiry by John Law product Management View Webinar 19!, focus on defining the problem your application aims to fix they did this.... Building site in the gaps of your observation can turn that into this ‘ how might we ’. Key points next to each one subjects don ’ t immediately understand when. Can be sure that I contextual inquiry template d like to know their real life... In complete answers to your questions and take some time upfront to build with. It takes to look through, compare and document your findings come up with clarification questions at another time alternative. Or alternative approaches people use of looping in their own environment one interviewer speaking to has to do is along. 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