Contextual Design: Lessons Learned and Industry Directions

Special Joint Seminar
Seminar on People, Computers, and Design and
the Center for Work, Technology, and Organization

Monday, June 26, 2006, 3:00 pm. Terman 217
(not available online)

  Karen Holtzblatt , InContext Design

Karen Holtzblatt is the inventor of Contextual Inquiry and with Hugh Beyer Contextual Design, the customer involvement process adopted by many companies and taught throughout the world. Contextual Design is a customer-centered design process that takes a cross-functional team from collecting data about users in the field, through interpretation and consolidation of that data, to the design of product or system concepts and a tested system structure.

Over the last 18 years the industry has moved from using an engineering-driven requirements and design process to a more user-centered process. Many now recognize that the best way to define the right product, business process, web site or other system is to involve users and user data at every step. And they are moving to integrate contextual techniques with other techniques like agile development, six sigma, business process redesign, and overall system's engineering. As a complete front end design process, Contextual Design can be used to drive user awareness into every aspect of product, system, and business process design.

In this talk Karen talks about how Contextual Design is changing to respond to new demands and discusses what design processes work and what doesn't work for different organizational structures, software development methodologies and design problems. She uses examples drawn from her wide experience working with development and design teams across the industry on design problems that span consumer and business applications, mobile and traditional platforms, and hundreds of work practices.

Karen Holtzblatt is recognized as a leader in the design community, Karen has pioneered transformative ideas and design approaches throughout her career. Karen introduced Contextual Inquiry, now the industry standard for gathering field data to understand how technology impacts the way people work. Contextual Inquiry and the design processes based on it provide a revolutionary approach for designing new products and systems based on a deep understanding of the context of use. Contextual Inquiry forms the base of Contextual Design, InContext's full customer-centered design process.

Karen co-founded InContext Enterprises in 1992 to use Contextual Design techniques to coach product teams and deliver customer-centered designs to businesses across multiple industries. The books, Contextual Design: Defining Customer Centered Systems, and, most recently, Rapid Contextual Design, are used by companies and universities all over the world. InContext's CDTools™ product, launched in 2004, is the first tool suite to support teams doing customer-centered design. Karen's extensive experience with teams and all types of work and life practice underlies the innovation and reliable quality consistently delivered by InContext's teams.

Karen also has more than 20 years of teaching experience, professionally and in university settings. She holds a doctorate in applied psychology from the University of Toronto.

This talk will not be available on line.

Titles and abstracts for previous years are available by year and by speaker.