Contextual Inquiry

Contextual InquiryContextual Inquiry

In contextual inquiry studies, we observe customers or users using applications and websites in their own environments. These could be their homes, offices, or somewhere else they use them.

Why You Should Do ItWhy You Should Do It

Observing real behaviors in real environments can provide insights that can help transition a product, website or app from being merely usable to creating a great user experience.

In Contextual Inquiry studies, we often encounter unexpected behaviors, which can provide ideas for features we haven’t thought of. In these studies, we can also see interruptions and superstitious and illogical behaviors that will have an impact on how customers will experience our product. These insights will help us to design products aligned with users’ mental models and their environments that can lead to less effort on the users’ part.

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The ApproachThe Approach

In contextual inquiries, we observe users without directing their behaviors or giving them tasks, like we do in usability testing.

Early-stage of design and development to gather input for technical requirements, navigation flow, information architecture, personas, and content strategies.

When Is It Appropriate to do Contextual Inquiry?

Quantitative usability testing can be conducted at different stages of the design process:

  • Before the development of design concepts: Contextual inquiry studies in the early stages of design and development allow us to gather input for technical requirements, navigation flow, information architecture, personas, and content strategies.
  • Final version development: Once the final version of the design has been chosen, it is time to do a final check on usability issues to ensure that the implementation of the prior insights was effective, and no major problems remain.
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Target Audience RecruitmentTarget Audience Recruitment

Relevant Insights can recruit qualified B2C and B2B participants through our sample provider partners. Relevant Insights can also recruit participants from your customer database and will implement procedures to protect any identifiable personal information.

As an alternative, you may also recruit directly from your own customer database if data privacy policies restrict customer data sharing. After discussions with you, we determine the sample parameters and assist in developing screeners. We also manage participant incentives.

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In direct collaboration with you, Relevant Insights will:

  1. Develop a focused list of activities and areas of observation and discussion with users to support the study objectives.
  2. Determine the observation time period.
  3. Recommend sample size, target audience, and sample sources.
  4. Moderate in-person observation sessions on site.
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Analytical PlanAnalytical Plan

Insights from Contextual Inquiry studies include, among others:

  • Points of frustration, confusion.
  • Unmet needs.
  • Workflows.
  • Problems found in critical tasks.
  • Level of difficulty to recover from a problem.
  • Whether a feature is used or works as intended.
  • Perceived level of satisfaction with aspects of different tasks.
  • Design elements and features that work well.
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Relevant insights can provide different reporting options, which can be chosen based on budget and time constraints:

  1. Video and audio recordings of interviews.
  2. Interview transcripts.
  3. Short written summary report with key findings.
  4. Full detailed report with analysis, charts, quotes in a graphically appealing format.
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Typical Project DurationTypical Project Duration

Five to eight weeks.

Factors that can affect project duration include:

  • The incidence rate of the target sample: The lower the incidence rate, the longer we need to stay in the field to gather the required data.
  • Client team responsiveness: A delayed response to requests for feedback at different steps of the project, will stall a project and affect the delivery date.
  • The number of participants/locations that need to be recruited.
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The cost will vary depending on:

  • The number of participants and locations.
  • Observation time.
  • Travel to locations.
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