According to the Neilson Norman Group: “Contextual inquiry is a type of ethnographic field study that involves in-depth observation and interviews of a small sample of users to gain a robust understanding of work practices and behaviors. Its name describes exactly what makes it valuable — inquiry in context:
- Context: The research takes place in the users’ natural environment as they conduct their activities the way they normally would. The context could be in their home, office, or somewhere else entirely.
- Inquiry: The researcher watches the user as she performs her task and asks for information to understand how and why users do what they do.”
What is Contextual Inquiry?
Consider the following:
- When should your client be using contextual inquiry?
- How does contextual inquiry fit into our approach?
- Can we use contextual inquiry to help stakeholders understand the customers better?
- What kind of contextual inquiry can be done using video conferencing software at a distance?