Now available! The new edition of Contextual Design: Design for Life, by Karen Holtzblatt and Hugh Beyer. Learn more and order.
The Contextual Design (CD) process encourages holistic, systemic design — looking at the whole user work and life context and responding with an integrated concept that broadly supports user activities. From visioning through validation, the team takes a product concept and turns it into a detailed design that can guide product specification and rollout planning. With the customer data documented and online, the User Environment Design, and UI specification ready-to-hand, teams can plan their rollout using whatever methodology the parent company prefers.
Whether the next step is to write product requirement documents, functional specifications, Agile user stories or something else, CD delivers a new product concept or version from a deep understanding of the context of the users. CD supports the team with solid design processes that continually immerses them in the world of the user, ensuring they keep that context front and center while they designing and then developing the release.
Our work on The Cool Project showed that as designers, we needed a new way of seeing. We need to recognize and collect new types of user data on core human motives, on wider dimensions of life, and on how the whole of the user’s integrated life fits together. In The Cool Project, we articulated this new perspective in seven Cool Concepts, each revealing core human motivations that products must support to be successful today.