Homework # 2: Contextual Inquiry
Start: Tue, July 27 --
note that this homework starts before Assignment 1 ends. Feel free to start on
Hand in: Tue, Aug 10
Counts for 15% of final grade
In this assignment, you will practice using the Contextual Inquiry (CI) and Design
techniques. Unfortunately, we won't be able to do a "real" contextual
inquiry of someone performing a real task. As a stand-in, you will perform a
contextual inquiry of a person performing a task that is similar
to ones for your project.
- Decide on the focus of your CI, so you can determine what parts of
the design you particularly need information about.
- Find one person to interview who is not in the class, preferably
someone who is familiar with the topic that your web site will sell. For
example, if you are doing home-buying, then try to find someone who has
recently purchased a home. One way to find candidate people is to go to laundromats, malls, parks, and other places where people tend to be waiting
- You will want to try to interview the person in their own context (e.g., home, work, car) as they perform
a task that is related to what your eCommerce site will be for. (If you
find your person in a laundromat, you may have to do your CI there, possibly
on your laptop.) You
are going to do the CI with them about activities they do in connection with your
website/business. The CI should be 30 minutes to 2 hours.
out how people buy clothing from paper catalogues—what’s important to
them, and what they do. For this, you might sit with a homeowner, in her home, as she peruses
her catalogues, noting which ones she keeps, where she stores them, how she
reads them, and follow through on the actual order process, noting all tasks
such as keeping notes or marking up the catalogue, process of ordering
(phone, email, postal, etc.), payment, shipping, handling returns, etc. You
would also go with the shopper to look at her closet, to ask her about which
clothing she buys from catalogues and which she buys from stores, and why
she chooses each method.
- Everyone in your group should attend the interview. If possible, one
person should record the session using a video camera and/or tape recorder.
All members should take notes. You should turn in detailed notes, or even
better, a transcript. Important : number the lines on your written
observations and notes, so you can refer to your data by line number in your
discussion and models.
- As a group, discuss the results of your interviews, and create models of what
you learned (see below). As you model, be sure to link ideas in the models with
the data from your notes by citing line numbers.
- Brainstorm ideas for your site with your group, building on data and models.
- Write up a 1 to 2-page report of your contextual interviews and design
exercise. What was your focus? Who were the people you interviewed? What
questions did you pursue? How did the interviews go? What did you learn? Did you
revise your ideas of the users' goals or would you now re-write your user
scenario? Did you get ideas for making your site useful to users? (You may list
design ideas, functionality ideas, content or application ideas, if any.)
- Attach to your report, for each user, your notes, a flow model, cultural
model, and (rough) sequence model. (These models will be explained in Lecture
4). Include physical or artifact models only if
relevant. These can be sketched on paper, and do NOT need to be especially neat. Please
give us copies rather than the originals. Your models must cite your data using
line numbers, times or other indicators.
Check list of what to turn in:
- Numbered notes or transcript created above (#4)
- Report created for #7
- Models created for #8
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