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Contextual Inquiry – What is it?

Author: Minh Nguyen

Reading time:

Sep 2023

Contextual Inquiry uses a mixture of field observation and interview. The idea behind the method is to observe the user in his real environment while he is using the product and to ask him directly about his behavior


How does a Contextual Inquiry work?

By combining interview and field observation, the method saves quite a bit of time, as the cause of any ambiguities can be investigated directly.
On the other hand, the presence of the interviewer and the interruption by his questions naturally influences the user and the way he deals with the product.
Nevertheless, there may be use cases where Contextual Inquiry is preferable to the “cleaner” methods, for example, when the time of the counterpart is severely limited or the use of the product takes up only a very small proportion of the time of the actual task.

These questions are answered by a Contextual Inquiry

  • Which features do my users really need?
  • How come users use my product differently than expected?
  • What general usability problems does my product have?
  • Does the user want to use my product?
  • Who are the main users of my product and how do they differ?
  • Where do problems (e.g., errors, waiting, getting “lost”) occur when using my product?
  • Does the design of my interface support users in their tasks?


How does a Contextual Inquiry work with us?

Let us find out together whether a Contextual Inquiry is the right method for your question and how a cooperation works in detail. You can find our contact details here.


Not the right method for your question?

In our method assistant we have compiled the most important methods for the most typical questions. Try out the method assistant and find exactly the right method for your question: Click here for the method assistant.


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