January 2010 Event: Contextual Inquiry

  • 28 Jan 2010
  • 6:30 PM - 8:29 PM
  • University of Washington, Electrical Engineering Building Room 37

Join us for a the beginning of our series taking us through the design process! 

Dave Flotree will open the series with an end-end perspective on the design process, as done using Contextual Inquiry.  Come early (6:30-7) to grab a bite to eat and visit with your colleagues.

Here are the basics:

6:30-7pm Social and light refreshments

7-7:15pm Announcements and updates

7:15-8:15pm Presentation

8:15-8:30 Q&A 

University of Washington (main campus) Electrical Engineering room 37.  There is a nominal fee for parking on campus in the evening. 

Contextual Design-The end-to-end methodology for user-centered design

In the world of product and system development, organizations are constantly faced with the challenge of successfully moving from a vague, high-level idea to a detailed, user-tested design.  The early stage in a project's life can be a most uncertain and difficult time for the team:  There's no detailed customer data that's useful for design-the usual abstract analysis and opinions won't do; arguments ensue over "what the customer wants;" the business stakeholders change their minds; important requirements are discovered late in user testing or, worse, after release.  The list goes on.

What the organization needs is a backbone process that brings the different project disciplines and stakeholders together from the beginning and uses customer data to focus them on achieving design success.  Contextual Design (CD) was created to provide such a backbone.  The Contextual Design methodology, developed by Karen Holtzblatt and Hugh Beyer, is a customer-centered design process using field data as the foundation for understanding users' needs, tasks, intents, and processes in order to design products and systems that meet both users' and business' needs.

During the meeting we'll overview the CD process, including contextual inquiry, the foundational user-centered technique for gathering user data.  Along the way, we'll cover key principles and examples of different models and tools and techniques used throughout.  We'll also cover some practicalities about how many customers you really need to interview, and the amount of time you need for the project.

Dave Flotree is an active work practice designer at InContext Design (
www.incontextdesign.com), regularly using Contextual Design on client projects from startups to Fortune 500 companies, across a variety of industries.  Dave has over 25 years of customer-facing business experience in user research, requirements analysis, functional design, and marketing of technical products.  Prior to joining InContext, Dave was an independent consultant in user research and business analysis.  Prior to that, he was employed by Fluke Corporation for 15 years in technical product planning, product management, and sales program management.  Dave holds an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Washington.

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