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Rapid Contextual Design - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780123540515, 9780080515717

Rapid Contextual Design

1st Edition

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

Authors: Karen Holtzblatt Jessamyn Wendell Shelley Wood
Paperback ISBN: 9780123540515
eBook ISBN: 9780080515717
Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
Published Date: 14th December 2004
Page Count: 320
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Planning Your Rapid CD Project
Chapter 3: Planning Your Contextual Interviews
Chapter 4: The Contextual Inquiry Interview
Chapter 5: Contextual Interview Interpretation Session
Chapter 6: Work Modeling
Chapter 7: Building an Affinity Diagram
Chapter 8: Consolidated Sequence Models
Chapter 9: Using Contextual Data to Write Personas
Chapter 10: Walking the Affinity and Consolidated Sequences
Chapter 11: Visioning a New Way to Work
Chapter 12: Storyboarding
Chapter 13: Testing with Paper Prototypes
Chapter 14: Paper Prototype Interviews
Chapter 15: Rapid CD and Other Methodologies
Chapter 16: Issues of Organizational Adoption
Appendix 1: Supply Checklist


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!

Key Features

  • Includes real project examples with actual customer data that illustrate how a CD project actually works
  • Covers the entire scope of a project, from deciding on the number and type of interviews, to interview set up and analyzing collected data. Sample project schedules are also included for a variety of different types of projects
  • Provides examples of how-to write affinity notes and affinity labels, build an affinity diagram, and step-by-step instructions for consolidating sequence models
  • Shows how to use consolidated data to define a design within tight time frames with examples of visions, storyboards, and paper prototypes
  • Introduces CDTools™, the first application designed to support customer-centered design


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.


No. of pages:
© Morgan Kaufmann 2004
14th December 2004
Morgan Kaufmann
Paperback ISBN:
eBook ISBN:


"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

Ratings and Reviews

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

Jessamyn Wendell

Affiliations and Expertise

Design Consultant

Shelley Wood

Affiliations and Expertise

InContext Enterprises