Contextual Inquiry

Optimizing tasks to make work more efficient

 What is a Contextual Inquiry?

A contextual inquiry is an interview conducted through direct observation in the user’s environment. Researchers watch the user carry out their normal activities while observing how they interact with a system, product or service. Questions are asked to the user during the execution of tasks to better understand their mental process, interactions and workflow.

What Are the Benefits?

A Contextual Inquiry allows us to discover how people work and identify what impact processes, policies and organisational culture have on their productivity. Great product improvements come from combining a detailed understanding of a user’s needs with an in-depth understanding of technology.

When to Use It?

The Contextual Inquiry is very useful when thinking of optimising or redesigning complex applications (i.e. Call Centers, specialized work applications and B2B solutions). As an interviewing process, Contextual Inquiry successfully extracts detailed data about users’ work as well as the related environment.

What we Deliver?

Once a Contextual Inquiry is carried out, 4 models are generated:

  • The context model shows communication across a whole work domain. This includes procedures and policies, expectations and constraints as well as users involved with the system
  • The physical model represents the physical space and systems that affect the work
  • The flow model shows communication across a whole work domain, not only among current users of a system
  • The sequence model shows the specific tasks users perform and how the work can be simplified and optimised


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