What Users Don’t Say: Uncovering Unexpected Needs Through Contextual Design Research

Maynard A

I believe that watching real people doing real things in the real world helps us understanding them better than bringing them into an artificial usability lab environment. That deeper understanding undoubtedly helps us to design with empathy but more importantly it enables us to identify their latent needs. In doing so, it provides opportunities for us to create breakthrough products and services.

Through a collection of case studies we will explore diary studies, shadowing, contextual interviews, some informal contextual research techniques and some crowdsourced research techniques that have helped to inspire my design teams by immersing them in their users’ world.

My case studies will include mapping the customer experience of buying and using a new kitchen appliance, inventing a machine that means you never order the wrong size shoes online, concepting an app to support cancer patients and reinventing academic library services (and there’s a few others thrown in too).

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