One option for contextual inquiry in this situation could be issuing
an incident diary for your users, where they note down any problems
they have with the product.
Here is a brief description of incident diaries if you're not
familiar with them.
This diagram may give you some additional options.
Hope this helps
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Posted from the new ixda.org
Justin, We've done disposable camera and Polaroid camera studies (back
when), as well; Flip camera option coming soon. On several occasions, we
"stitched" together different portions of a complete cycle, even from
different regions of the country, from different users (all complementary)
to create a "whole." There were ultimately some missing elements, but also
some wonderful insights that we may not have considered if it was a single
user via single cycle, what we had originally considered to be ideal. -
Andrew Schechterman PhD
aschechterman at gmail.com
Denver, Colorado, US
On Fri, Jan 15, 2010 at 7:24 PM, grahamsear <graham.sear at gmail.com> wrote:
> HI Justin,
> One option for contextual inquiry in this situation could be issuing
> an incident diary for your users, where they note down any problems
> they have with the product.
> Here is a brief description of incident diaries if you're not
> familiar with them.
> This diagram may give you some additional options.
> Hope this helps
Thanks for your replies, it was good to get some validation in what I
was thinking of doing in this situation.
I was thinking the best way would probably have to be some sort of
Journaling/Diary method, but I was thinking more written then photo.
However, I'm not entirely sure what the best way of doing it is.
Are there any articles that describe best practices that you are
aware of? I'm having a hard time figuring out the right search terms
to get what I need out of Google.
Another alternative to paper bases diaries I've thought about but
not yet tried is Evernote www.evernote.com. It's like an online
scrapbook that lets you upload photos with your camera or phone, clip
websites, add links, screen grabs, capture handwritten notes,
sketches, images and also voice memos. It can be used via mobile or
Each person's scrapbook can be shared online so you can see their
work in progress. I've not used it yet, but it seems to me like an
ideal way to take digital notes from user's daily life across a
multitude of media. However, it probably isn't the most suitable
tool for a low tech audience.
(PS. I've no affiliation with Evernote)
I would also look into terms such as 'experience sampling' or
'tehnology probe.' The idea behind these being that if you can
build a technology (either something novel, or, ideally, something
that piggybacks on technology which already figures prominently into
the person's daily routine) to encourage them to reflect on any
issues they may be having, and record information about these issues
for further examination (by you, or even by them). This can be an
effective way to get contextually valid data without the distraction
of having a researcher follow the subject around.
If this is software I would imagine you can just use something like
USABILLA.COM or a remote capturing device that uses their camera
while they work if they have a built in camera. The trick would be in
your recruiting process. I think since people are on the go you
really have to consider the locations and things they are doing at
those spots where they might actually take the time to sit and even
use this software. Just because they are on the go doesn't mean they
are actually using the software in those contexts. I'd probably just
run a quick survey and ask what types of spots do people actually
take the time to sit and use the software when they are on the go.
Then you would want to just think about those locations and wonder if
that really matters how they interact with the computer or the
You want to find out if their behavior in that environment affects
their interaction with the computer or software. So unlike a camera
that is affected by its outdoor or indoor environment because its
context can create different shooting conditions, software for work
might not even be used unless they are in an airport or at the hotel
or at a coffee shop.
And in those environments the main thing that could affect their
usage would be bandwidth, power, lighting, or people being able to
see what they are working on. So you really have a more limited
behavioral context then you might think depending on what the
software is and what people are actually going to do with it and if
it requires them to actually go only to certain locations because of
a need for internet or a level ground so they can focus and get out
their materials and work on things. When you consider tools you
might want to worry more about what tools will they need with them to
use the software and are those tools limited to certain environments?
and in those limited environments would you want to make those tools
available to them in the software so they need not have them on their
consider a short list of environments or survey them and then narrow
your list of what things can actually impact the use of this software
and you will be headed in a pretty good direction I think.