Contextual Design

Contextual Design

Defining Customer-Centered Systems

1st Edition - September 1, 1997

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  • Authors: Karen Holtzblatt, Hugh Beyer
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080503042

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This book introduces a customer-centered approach to business by showing how data gathered from people while they work can drive the definition of a product or process while supporting the needs of teams and their organizations. This is a practical, hands-on guide for anyone trying to design systems that reflect the way customers want to do their work. The authors developed Contextual Design, the method discussed here, through their work with teams struggling to design products and internal systems. In this book, you'll find the underlying principles of the method and how to apply them to different problems, constraints, and organizational situations.Contextual Design enables you to+ gather detailed data about how people work and use systems + develop a coherent picture of a whole customer population + generate systems designs from a knowledge of customer work+ diagram a set of existing systems, showing their relationships, inconsistencies, redundancies, and omissions

Table of Contents

  • Contextual Design: Defining Customer-Centered Systems

    by Hugh Beyer and Karen Holtzblatt



      Chapter 1 Introduction
        The challenges for design

        The challenge of fitting into everyday life

        Creating an optimal match to the work

        Keeping in touch with the customer

        The challenge of design in organizations

        Teamwork in the physical environment

        Managing face-to-face design

        The challenge of design from data

        The complexity of work

        Maintaining a coherent response

        Contextual Design

      Part 1 Understanding the Customer

      Chapter 2 Gathering Customer Data
        Marketing doesn't provide design data

        The rocky partnership between IT and its clients

        Improving communication with the business

        The role of intuition in design

        Contextual Inquiry reveals hidden work structure

      Chapter 3 Principles of Contextual Inquiry
        The master/apprentice model

        The four principles of Contextual Inquiry





        The contextual interview structure

      Chapter 4 Contextual Inquiry in Practice
        Setting project focus

        Designing the inquiry for commercial products

        Designing the inquiry for IT projects

        Designing the interviewing situation

        Deciding who to interview

        Making it work

      Part 2 Seeing Work

      Chapter 5 A Language of Work
        Using language to focus thought

        Graphical languages give a whole picture

        Work models provide a language for seeing work

        Work models reveal the important distinctions

      Chapter 6 Work Models
        The flow model

        Recognizing communication flow

        Creating a bird's-eye view of the organization

        The sequence model

        Collecting sequences during an interview

        The artifact model

        Collecting artifacts during an interview

        Inquiring into an artifact

        The cultural model

        Recognizing the influence of culture

        Making culture tangible

        The physical model

        Seeing the impact of the physical environment

        Showing what matters in the physical environment

        The five faces of work

      Chapter 7 The Interpretation Session

      Building a shared understanding

      The structure of an interpretation session

      Team makeup


      Running the session

      The sharing session

    Part 3 Seeing across Customers

    Chapter 8 Consolidation
      Creating one representation of a market

      A single representation is a marketing and planning tool

      Facilitate the partnership between IT and customers

      IT can be the voice for coherent business processes

      Representations of work stabilize requirements

      Seeing the whole

    Chapter 9 Creating One View of the Customer
      The affinity diagram

      Consolidating flow models

      Consolidating sequence models

      Consolidating artifact models

      Consolidating physical models

      Consolidating cultural models

      The thought process of consolidation

    Chapter 10 Communicating to the Organization
      Communication Techniques

      Walking the affinity

      Walking the consolidated models

      Touring the design room

      Tailoring the language to the audience






      Models manage the conversation

    Part 4 Innovation from Data

    Chapter 11 Work Redesign
      Customer data drives innovation

      Creative design incorporates diversity

      Contextual Design introduces a process for invention

      Work redesign as a distinct design step

    Chapter 12 Using Data to Drive Design
      The consolidated flow model

      Role switching

      Role strain

      Role sharing

      Role isolation

      Process fixes

      Target the customer


      The consolidated cultural model

      Interpersonal give-and-take

      Pervasive values

      Public relations

      Process fixes


      The consolidated physical model

      The reality check

      Work structure made real

      Movement and access

      Partial automation

      Process fixes


      Consolidated sequence models

      What the user is up to

      How users approach a task

      Unnecessary steps

      What gets them started

      Process fixes


      Consolidated artifact models

      Why it matters

      What it says

      How it chunks

      What it looks like


      Using metaphors

      Using models for design

    Chapter 13 Design from Data
      Walking the data

      Priming the brain

      Creating a vision

      Creating a common direction

      Making the vision real

      Process and organization design

      Marketing plans

      System design


      Redesigning work

    Part 5 System Design

    Chapter 14 System Design
      Keeping the user's work coherent

      Breaking up the problem breaks up the work

      A system has its own coherence

      The structure of a system

      Designing structure precedes UI design

      The User Environment Design

      Representing the system work model

      The User Environment formalism in the design process

    Chapter 15 The User Environment Design
      The reverse User Environment Design

      Building the User Environment from storyboards

      Defining a system with the User Environment Design

      User Environment Design walkthroughs

      Probing User Environment Design structure

    Chapter 16 Project Planning and Strategy
      Planning a series of releases

      Partitioning a system for implementation

      Coordinating a product strategy

      Driving concurrent implementation

    Part 6 Prototyping

    Chapter 17 Prototyping as a Design Tool
      The difficulty of communicating a design

      Including customers in the design process

      Using paper prototypes to drive design

      Prototyping as a communication tool

    Chapter 18 From Structure to User Interface
      Using the User Environment Design to drive the UI

      Mapping to a windowing UI

      Mapping to a command-line UI

      Mapping to UI controls

      A process to design the UI

    Chapter 19 Iterating with a Prototype
      Building a paper prototype

      Running a prototype interview





      The structure of an interview




      The interview


      The interpretation session


      Completing a design


    Chapter 20 Putting It into Practice
      The principles of Contextual Design

      The principle of data

      The principle of the team

      The principle of design thinking

      Breaking up design responsibilities across groups

      Addressing different design problems

      Team structure

      Maintaining a strategic customer focus

      Handling organizational change

      Designing the design process


    Readings and Resources



Product details

  • No. of pages: 496
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Morgan Kaufmann 1997
  • Published: September 1, 1997
  • Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080503042

About the Authors

Karen Holtzblatt

Karen Holtzblatt is a co-founder of InContext Enterprises, Inc., a firm that works with companies, coaching teams to design products, product strategies, and information systems from customer data. Karen Holtzblatt developed the Contextual Inquiry field data gathering technique that forms the core of Contextual Design and is now taught and used world-wide.

Affiliations and Expertise

InContext Enterprises, Inc., Concord, MA, USA

Hugh Beyer

Hugh Beyer is a co-founder of InContext Enterprises, Inc., a firm that works with companies, coaching teams to design products, product strategies, and information systems from customer data. Hugh Beyer has pioneered the link between the customer-centered front end and object-oriented design.

Affiliations and Expertise

InContext Enterprises, Inc., Concord, MA, USA

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