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3 CONTEXTUAL INQUIRY - INTRODUCTION Goal: To understand customers work practice "Getting your nose in customers tent" Roots in ethnography Branch of anthropology focusing on study and systematic description of human cultures 3

4 EXAMPLE Work Set of activities people undertake to accomplish goals in work domain Work Domain Entire context of work and work practice in target enterprise or other target usage environment 4

5 EXAMPLE Work Practice 1. Followed and observed in customary performance of a particular job to carry out operations of enterprise 2. Involves learned skills, decision making, physical actions, and social interaction 3. Can be based on tradition, ritualized, and habituated Work Activity Work activity composed of sensory, cognitive, and physical actions made by users in course of carrying out work practice 5

6 EXAMPLE Voting Booth 1.) 2.) 6

7 WHAT IS CONTEXTUAL INQUIRY? Contextual inquiry UX lifecycle activity to gather detailed descriptions of customer or user work practice For purpose of understanding work activities and underlying rationale Goal: To improve work practice and construct and/or improve system designs to support it Contextual inquiry is about the way things are done now 7

8 WHAT IS CONTEXTUAL INQUIRY? Includes Interviews of customers and users (what they say) Observations of work practice in real-world context (what they do) Not requirements gathering in traditional sense 8

9 CONTEXTUAL INQUIRY - OUTLINE 9 Contextual Inquiry System Concept Preparation Collection of User and Work Activities

10 SYSTEM CONCEPT STATEMENT System (or product) concept statement Typically 100 to 150 words in length Mission statement for new system to be developed Explains system to outsiders Helps set focus and scope for system development internally 10

11 SYSTEM CONCEPT STATEMENT An effective system concept statement answers at least the following questions: What is the system name? Who are the system users? What will the system do? What problem(s) will the system solve? (Be broad to include business objectives) What is design vision and what are the emotional impact goals? In other words, what experience will system provide to user? 11

12 INTRODUCING A RUNNING EXAMPLE Existing: The Middleburg University Ticket Transaction Service (MUTTS) Central event ticket office, like the one on campus Target: The Ticket Kiosk System Distributed self-serve kiosk system Especially want kiosks at bus stops around town 12

13 13 Example: For Ticket Kiosk System The Ticket Kiosk System will replace the old ticket retail system, the Middleburg University Ticket Transaction Service, by providing 24-hour- a-day distributed kiosk service to the general public. This service includes access to comprehensive event information and the capability to purchase tickets rapidly for local events such as concerts, movies, and the performing arts. The new system includes a significant expansion of scope to include ticket distribution for the entire MU athletic program. Transportation tickets will also be available, along with directions and parking information for specific venues. Compared to conventional ticket outlets, the Ticket Kiosk System will reduce waiting time and offer far more extensive information about events. A focus on innovative design will enhance the MU public profile while Fostering the spirit of being part of the MU community and offering the customer a Beaming interaction experience. (139 words)

14 USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA GATHERING – CORE OF CHAPTER 3 Contextual inquiry – How to do it Essence Prepare and conduct field visits to customer/user work environment - where system being designed will be used Observe and interview users while they work Inquire into structure of users own work practice Learn about how people do work your system is to be designed to support Take copious, detailed notes: Raw user work activity data 14 Huayu

15 USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA GATHERING Most general case – domain-complex systems High technical content Elaborate work flow and inter-role communication Need to avoid risk e.g. an Air Traffic Control System From Afar 15

16 BEFORE THE VISIT: PREPARATION FOR SYSTEM WITH COMPLEX WORK DOMAIN Learn about your customer organization Issues about the customer: Get feel for customers organizational policies and ethos By looking at their online presence, such as Website Participation in social networks Understand vocabulary and technical terms of work domain Learn about competition 16

17 BEFORE THE VISIT: PREPARATION Learn about your customer organization Issues about the customer: (continued) Learn about culture of work domain in general Example, conservative financial domain vs. laid-back art domain Recognize differences in perspectives between managers and users Investigate current system, practices, and history Look at companys existing and previous products If software, download trial versions to get familiar with design history and themes 17

18 BEFORE THE VISIT: PREPARATION Learn about the domain Issues about your team: Decide how many people to send on visits UX people and other team members Set own limits on number of visits and number of team members Depending on your budget and schedule Plan interview and observation strategy (who in team does what) 18

19 BEFORE THE VISIT: PREPARATION Learn about the domain Lining up the right customer & user people: Select and contact appropriate users or customer management and Administrative people to: Explain the need for a visit Explain purpose of visit: to learn about their work activities Explain approach Build rapport and trust Promise personal and corporate confidentiality 19

20 BEFORE THE VISIT: PREPARATION (continued) Identify areas of activity and users for observation and interviews Ask about which kinds of users are doing what and when Set scope; Explain that you want to see broadest representation of users and work Identify work activities Focus on most important and most representative tasks 20

21 BEFORE THE VISIT: PREPARATION (continued) Establish or negotiate various parameters, such as how long you will/can be there It can be up to several intense weeks for data gathering How often to visit It can be up to every other day How long for average interview A couple of hours maximum Maximum number of interviews per visit Example, four to six 21

22 BEFORE THE VISIT: PREPARATION Learn about the domain Lining up the right customer & user people:(continued) Select and contact appropriate support people Determined by management people Arrange logistics for visits 22

23 BEFORE THE VISIT: PREPARATION Learn about the domain Lining up the right customer & user people:(continued) Select appropriate users and others to meet, observe, and interview Especially frequent users, managers, customer representatives Cover as many usage roles as possible Plan visits to multiple sites if they exist 23

24 BEFORE THE VISIT: PREPARATION Get access to Key people Who are they? user manager 24

25 BEFORE THE VISIT: PREPARATION Get access to Key people What if you cant find real users ? Talk to user proxies Such as business experts or consultants disadvantages 25

26 BEFORE THE VISIT: PREPARATION Get access to Key people Setting up the right conditions ? The environment: the active work place The people: not the supervisor but workers 26

27 BEFORE THE VISIT: PREPARATION Get access to Key people How many interviewees at a time? Multiple users A single user Preparing your initial questions (last but not least) Ask users to tell you and show you how they do their work 27

28 DURING VISIT: C OLLECTING U SER W ORK A CTIVITY D ATA Goal: Use Context, Not User Desires! Do not ask users what they want or need Akin to relational database design: How do you your task? What data should I store? Observe and interview users In own work context About how they do their work (normal, good, bad, etc.) 28 Alex If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said, faster horses Henry Ford vs.

29 DURING VISIT: COLLECTING USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA Form partnerships with users Users must trust you and be engaged Allow the users to lead the inquiry by asking open ended questions Who is the expert? Behind the keyboard: hopefully you… In the use/work domain: the user Pay close attention to the feedback from the expert! 29

30 DURING VISIT: COLLECTING USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA Get task data One of most important kinds of contextual data From observing users doing their own work in their own work context I.e. Dont ask a manager to explain a different users job Notice triggers for tasks and steps What happens to cause them to initiate each task or step? Example, incoming phone call leads to filling out order form Learn about your users task barriers Notice hesitations, problems, errors 30

31 DURING VISIT: COLLECTING USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA Recording video Effective way to capture comprehensive data Use only where conditions and resources permit Can help you capture nonverbal communication cues Downsides Users can be camera shy Not forthcoming Who wants to make a mistake on camera? Users may not want to make negative comments on camera (about their current work practice) 31

32 DURING VISIT: COLLECTING USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA Note taking Pen and paper Laptop Only if you can type quietly! We dont want our observations to disturb the users normal work practice Small digital recorder For notes, not for recording interview Allows the user to correct any misconceptions you may speak aloud while recording notes Use a consistent notation! 32

33 DURING VISIT: COLLECTING USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA Use numbering system to identify source of each data point To document data for validity So can go back to answer questions Mark time points in videos and audio Transcribe recordings with line #s 33 Result: A consistent timeline/framework of all notes and observations from the contextual inquiry

34 DURING VISIT: COLLECTING USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA Be a listener Usually do not offer your opinions about what users might need Do not lead user or introduce your own perspectives 34 I want privacy when I am buying tickets… You mean, when you are looking for events and buying tickets, you dont want other people in line to know what you are doing? Can you elaborate what you mean by wanting privacy?

35 DURING VISIT: COLLECTING USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA Do not expect every user to have same view of work domain and work Expect multiple perspectives during analysis your job will be to determine the "truth" from the middle ground of these perspectives 35

36 DURING VISIT: COLLECTING USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA Capture details as they occur Do not wait and try to remember it later Be an effective data ferret or detective Discover, extract, tease out Follow leads, collect clues I.e. If a new term or concept comes up, jump on it and tease the idea apart before returning to your previous line of questioning Be ready to adapt, modify, explore, branch out

37 DURING VISIT: COLLECTING USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA Pay attention to information needs of users It is all there Syndrome Cop-out, Laziness Lack of proper contextual inquiry leads to information flooding screens 37

38 DURING VISIT: COLLECTING USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA What about design ideas that crop up with users? Take note of the idea, but direct the user back towards the work practice Remember: Users tend to not know what they need and tend to have very narrow views! What about analyst and designer ideas that crop up? Again, tag them like any other note and move on

39 DURING VISIT: COLLECTING USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA Questions not to ask: Do not ask about the future; do not ask users what they would do in a given circumstance. Answers wont reflect reality! Do not ask for design advice Users arent designers! Do not ask leading questions that just put ideas into their heads This will bias the user towards your understanding 39

40 DURING VISIT: COLLECTING USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA Collect work artifacts Tangible talking points for analysis and design Example: Work artifacts from local restaurant 40

41 DURING VISIT: COLLECTING USER WORK ACTIVITY DATA Other forms of data collection Digital photos Document the environment with lots of pictures Capture the big picture On-the-fly diagrams of workflow, roles, and relationships On-the-fly sketches of physical layout, floor plans Quantitative data How many people do this job? How many widgets are assembled per hour? Etc. 41

42 BETWEEN VISITS: A NTICIPATE M ODELING N EEDS Create contextual data bins Key problems, ideas Temporary repositories to hold categories of raw contextual data Example, labeled piles of notes on table To start organizing data right from start 42

43 WRAP IT UP Do not overstay your welcome Be efficient, get what you need, and get out of their way Limit interviews to no more than two hours Most people cannot focus and remain concentrated on explaining their work process for more than two hours They probably have work to do! Hartson and Pyla suggest giving gifts… I think a simple thank you is appropriate 43

44 WHAT ABOUT COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS? Work role simply the user (think Android app) Challenge: Collecting work activity data (e.g. use of the Android app) as is occurs over time without influencing the users behavior Long term patterns have to be observed People learn new forms of usage over time E.g. users alter the way they use their Android phone over time in order to become more efficient in using the phone 44

45 TYPICAL ISSUES Users dont understand what contextual inquiry is Users want to meet in a conference room Users want to do group sessions Users dont show complete work tasks Users talk over your head (subject experts) Contextual inquiries turn into complaint sessions 45



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