Human-Computer Interaction in eCommerce, Summer, 2001

Homework # 2: Contextual Inquiry

Start: Friday, July 6
Hand in: Wednesday, July 18

Group Project
Counts for 10% of final grade.

In this assignment, you will practice using the Contextual Inquiry 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 one of your classmates performing a task that is similar to ones for your project.

  1. Arrange to interview one person from the class or not, but who is not in your group, 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.  You are going to interview them about activities they do in connection with your website/business. The interview should be 30 minutes to 2 hours.
    Example: Find 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.
  2. Everyone in your group should attend the interview. If possible, one person should record the session using a videocamera 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Brainstorm ideas for your site with your group, building on data and models.

  5. Write up a 1 to 2-page report of your contextual interviews and design exercise. Who were the people you interviewed? What was your focus? 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.)
  6. 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 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:

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