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Session 4

Read Contextual design file (enclosed).

Contextual Design
Contextual Design is a state-of-the-art approach to designing products directly from a
designer’s understanding of how the customer works. Great product ideas come from the
marriage of a designer’s detailed understanding of a customer’s need and his or her in-depth
understanding of the possibilities introduced by technology. The best product designs result
when the product’s designers are involved in collecting and interpreting customer data and
appreciate what real people need. Contextual Design gives designers the tools to do just that.

Contextual Design starts by recognizing that any system embodies a way of working. A sys-
tem’s function and structure force users to accept particular strategies, language, and
work flow. Successful systems offer a way of working that customers want to adopt. Con-
textual Design is a method that helps a cross- functional team come to agreement on what
their customers need and how to design a sys- tem for them.
According to the Contextual Design approach, data gathered from customers is the
base criterion for deciding which needs to address, what the system should do, and how
it should be structured. The process guides the design team in understanding and redesigning
customers’ work, using those decisions to help define computer systems to support them. By
explicitly defining the work and the system, Contextual Design unifies design, marketing,
delivery, and support in a coherent response to the customer. It gives a team activities focused
on the customers and their work, rather than leaving team members to argue over personal
opinion, anecdotes, or unverifiable claims about “what customers would like.”
When a team begins work, it has to decide how to approach the task of deciding what to
build. Design methods define a coherent series of actions that lead a team, we hope, to
a well-designed system. But every problem is different, and every team and organizational
system are different; any design method must accommodate specific needs. Because Contex-
tual Design deals with the front end of design, from finding out who your customers are to
testing a specific solution for them, it offers a useful framework for tailoring a design pro-
cess. Individual steps can be shortened or omitted if they aren’t applicable, or a step can
be elaborated with additional techniques if it is important.

Biological cycle lasting approximately 24 hours.
All living beings – plants, animals, and human beings – are regulated by biological cycles, or,
in other words, biological events that repeat themselves at regular intervals. The rhythm of
these cycles is called circadian when it spans about 24 hours. In humans, the sleep-wake cycle
obeys a circadian rhythm.
Work modeling

Work practices are analyzed and detailed work models are created in order to understand the
workflow. Contextual design consists of five work models which are used to model the work
tasks and details of the working environment. These work models are [2]:

• Flow model - represents the coordination, interaction and responsibilities of the people
in a certain work practice
• Sequence model - represents the required steps to accomplish a certain activity
• Cultural model - represents the norms, influences, and pressures that are present in the
work environment
• Artifact model - represents the documents or other products that are created while
working. Artifacts often have a structure or styling that could represent the user's way
of structuring the work
• Physical model - represents the physical environment where the work tasks are
accomplished; often, there are multiple physical models representing, e.g., office
layout, network topology, or the layout of tools on a computer display.

What is an Affinity Diagram?

An Affinity Diagram is a tool that gathers large amounts of language data (ideas,
opinions, issues) and organizes them into groupings based on their natural
relationships (Viewgraph 1). The Affinity process is often used to group ideas
generated by Brainstorming.
Why should teams use the Affinity process?
The Affinity process is a good way to get people to work on a creative level to address
difficult issues. It may be used in situations that are unknown or unexplored by a
team, or in circumstances that seem confusing or disorganized, such as when people
with diverse experiences form a new team, or when members have incomplete
knowledge of the area of analysis.
When should we use the Affinity process?
The Affinity process is formalized in an Affinity Diagram and is useful when you want
to (Viewgraph 2)
! Sift through large volumes of data. For example, a process owner who is
identifying customers and their needs might compile a very large list of
unsorted data. In such a case, creating an Affinity Diagram might be helpful
for organizing the data into groups.
! Encourage new patterns of thinking. An Affinity exercise is an excellent way
to get a group of people to react on a "gut level" rather than mulling things
over intellectually. Since Brainstorming is the first step in making an Affinity
Diagram, the team considers all ideas from all members without criticism. This
stimulus is often enough to break through traditional or entrenched thinking,
enabling the team to develop a creative list of ideas.
When shouldn't we use the Affinity process?
As a rule of thumb, if less than 15 items of information have been identified, you can
skip the Affinity process. Instead, you can clarify and combine the ideas and then
use one of the Decision-Making Tools to identify the highest priority items
• A shared feature or attribute
• The possession, along with another or others, of a certain attribute or set of attributes