Information & Design

Designing for humans

Contextual enquiry

Drawing of an interview session

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Contextual Enquiry (CE) is a technique for examining and understanding users and their workplace, tasks, issues and preferences.workplace, tasks, issues and preferences.
CE can be used to produce user needs analyses and task analyses.
The results of a CE feed directly into the design process.
Although CE is time-consuming, it uncovers a wealth of invaluable data.

When is CE appropriate?

CE is appropriate whenever you need to develop or communicate an understanding of the users
of an existing or proposed system.

How is a CE conducted?

A contextual enquiry consists of visiting several users on site, observing them carrying
out their tasks, and analyzing and documenting the resultant data.

How many people are needed?

Two people should be involved in any site visits, if possible. It is not possible to capture
all the available information, but using two people maximizes the data returned.
At least two people should be involved in analyzing the data.

Site visit materials

When carrying out site visits, you will need the following materials:

How do you analyze the data?

Site Visit guidelines

Remember that the purpose of site visits is to learn from your users.

Guidelines for data analysis