P 2 - Observation

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In this assignment you will use the contextual inquiry methodology to learn more about the practices of your target users. Try to focus on as specific a group of users as you can. You will also create a storyboard of your proposed device and its user interface(s), and survey what other solutions already exist. Be sure to start right away on this assignment - it will take time to schedule users for interviews, and the bulk of the assignment is based on your interview data. Remember, we will not give extensions for group assignments.

Expect that your original project idea will change somewhat based on this user input - that's the purpose of the exercise, after all. Listen to your users and understand their perspective - do not try to convince them that you already have the answer to their needs.


  • Interview and/or observe at least three (3) target users (no classmates and ideally they should not be your friends either) using contextual inquiry. You should carefully choose your target user group. Try to be as focused as possible and address the needs of a specific group.
  • Describe tasks that users will perform with your device (and the accompanying application). Come up with multiple tasks of varying difficulty: easy, moderate, and difficult. You should consider two aspects of difficulty:
How difficult is it to currently perform the task with existing tools and applications? (It may not be possible at all)
How difficult would it be to perform the task using your proposed application?
  • Based on your analysis and tasks, create a storyboard of your proposed interface. You should include a sequence of sketches, screen shots or photos to illustrate how your application will be used to support some of the tasks you chose earlier.
  • Based on the tasks and your proposed interface, find the 5 most related devices and applications that already exist. Describe how your solution will differ.


You will submit a writeup of text and sketches through the wiki as described below. Your writeup should follow the outline below and will be graded using the writing guidelines described below. Try to be succinct but complete. Long-winded descriptions are just as bad as descriptions that are too short.

  • Each team member’s name.
  • Description of users you observed. Give a bit of relevant background on each subject.
  • Contextual inquiry interview descriptions and results (multiple paragraphs, potentially photos)
  • Restate the problem that your device addresses and a short explanation of how it addresses the problem. (short, 2-3 sentences)
  • List of multiple concrete tasks your device will support (brief, bullet points)
  • Storyboard of those tasks
  • Competitive Analysis: Find the five most closely related applications or devices; describe each in 2-3 sentences; describe what is unique about your project.

Writing Guidelines

Target Users

Describe the rationale behind your choice of target users. For each of the three users, give some details of their background, their likes/dislikes and priorities. Avoid information that may reveal their identity; take pictures that don't reveal their faces.

Contextual Inquiry - Interview Descriptions

Describe the process you followed when conducting the interviews, and environment where you observed their work. Identify tasks and themes that the customers shared in common in their practices. Include photos where appropriate. Then, note anything unique about each interview and comment on the rationale behind these events.

Problem and Solution Overview

This overview should be a concise statement of the problem you are tackling and a brief synopsis of your proposed solution, based on your original idea and the new information uncovered during the contextual inquiry.

Description of Key Tasks

Choose >1 unique tasks and describe them. These should be real world tasks that have details.


Show your design ideas and give rationale for your ideas. This section should clearly indicate the functionality of your artifact and what the user interface will be like. You should create a "'storyboard'" that has a scene for each of the major tasks you identified. You can draw this out or create a presentation slide deck with appropriate explanatory text on each slide.

Competitive Analysis

  • List of competitors: Compile a list of at least five related applications. For each, provide a URL the most relevant site about the application or device and also discuss:
    • Target User Group What is the target user groups of the competitors? How does it match or differ from your group project's target user group? (1 sentence)
    • Functionality: What benefits does the application offer to the user? What is the scope of functions offered? How will your proposed idea differ and improve upon the offered functionality? (1 sentence)
    • Usability: What are the successes and challenges of the competitor in terms of usability? How will your proposed idea improve upon or avoid potential usability problems in competitors? (1 sentence)
  • Summary (1 short paragraph): After reviewing the applications individually, summarize your findings. What application aspects are already well covered by the competition? What is the unique value proposition of your group's project? If you find your proposed idea has been covered, suggest how you might adapt your focus to offer unique value.


Add Link to Your Group's Page

Edit your group's page to add a link to a new wiki page for this assignment. The wiki syntax should look like this:

[[ObservationStoryboard-Group:Example Group|Observation and Storyboard]]

Again replace Example Group with your group's name. Then click on the link and enter the information about your assignment. Be sure to clearly address everything mentioned in the writing guidelines above.

Add Link to Your Finished Assignment

Once you are finished editing the page, add a link to it here with your group name as the title link. The wiki syntax will look like this: *[[ObservationStoryboard-Group:Example Group|Group:Example Group]]. Hit the edit button for this section to see how I created the link for the Example Group.