Rapid Contextual Design

A How-to Guide to Key Techniques for User-Centered Design


  • Karen Holtzblatt, InContext Enterprises, Inc., Concord, MA, U.S.A.
  • Jessamyn Wendell, Design Consultant
  • Shelley Wood, InContext Enterprises

Is it impossible to schedule enough time to include users in your design process? Is it difficult to incorporate elaborate user-centered design techniques into your own standard design practices? Do the resources needed seem overwhelming? This handbook introduces Rapid CD, a fast-paced, adaptive form of Contextual Design. Rapid CD is a hands-on guide for anyone who needs practical guidance on how to use the Contextual Design process and adapt it to tactical projects with tight timelines and resources. Rapid Contextual Design provides detailed suggestions on structuring the project and customer interviews, conducting interviews, and running interpretation sessions. The handbook walks you step-by-step through organizing the data so you can see your key issues, along with visioning new solutions, storyboarding to work out the details, and paper prototype interviewing to iterate the design—all with as little as a two-person team with only a few weeks to spare!
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Usability professionals, UI designers, user experience professionals and managers, plus IT professionals and commercial developers in the high tech industry who are developing new products and systems for commercial sale or in-house use.


Book information

  • Published: December 2004
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-354051-5


Rapid Contextual Design is a timely, relevant book for technical communicators. Whether you are a seasoned usability professional or a novice trying to develop your awareness of user-centered design, you should add this title to your bookshelf.” – Eddie VanArsdall, Technical Communication Here are those little gems of advice that a skilled mentor who peered over your shoulder would tell you. If you lack such a mentor, this book is the next best thing, explaining just what you need to do in a straightforward, easy to read, easy to understand manner. --Don Norman, Nielsen Norman group, Prof., Northwestern University,Author of Emotional Design The new how-to guide boosts the value of the original Contextual Design book by transforming a design method into pragmatic advices of how to run a Contextual Design project in your own environment. --Joerg Beringer, Director, Strategic Product Design, SAP-AG A wise guide to interface design dos and don'ts, from people with experience. They create a new language for thinking about design processes, combining a compelling structured process with sufficient freedom for innovative excursions. --Ben Shneiderman, University of Maryland Rapid Contextual Design provides a further step in innovation by providing detailed, practical advice on how to conduct successful research projects and to fit the project to the need. My team welcomes these new advances and the flexibility they will provide when we conduct future projects using this method. --Terry Austin, User Experience Group Manager, Microsoft

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: Planning Your Rapid CD ProjectChapter 3: Planning Your Contextual InterviewsChapter 4: The Contextual Inquiry InterviewChapter 5: Contextual Interview Interpretation SessionChapter 6: Work ModelingChapter 7: Building an Affinity DiagramChapter 8: Consolidated Sequence ModelsChapter 9: Using Contextual Data to Write PersonasChapter 10: Walking the Affinity and Consolidated SequencesChapter 11: Visioning a New Way to WorkChapter 12: StoryboardingChapter 13: Testing with Paper PrototypesChapter 14: Paper Prototype InterviewsChapter 15: Rapid CD and Other MethodologiesChapter 16: Issues of Organizational AdoptionAppendix 1: Supply ChecklistIndex