Contextual Inquiry and Task Analysis

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Due: before class on February 19, 2008

60 Points



In this assignment you will use the contextual inquiry methodology to learn more about the work practices of your target users. The interviews will help you perform a task analysis of your idea. Finally, you will design rough sketches of your proposed user interface. Be sure to make an early start 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.


  1. Interview at least three (3) target users (no CS160 classmates) using contextual inquiry.
  2. Answer the 11 task analysis questions presented in class. See this slide for the questions.
  3. Describe 6 tasks in moderate detail that users will perform with your application. There should be two (2) each of easy, moderate, and difficult tasks.
  4. Based on your analysis and tasks, explain your proposed interface. Describe in text and support your description with rough sketches of important screens. You should include a sequence of screen shots or dialog segments your application will use to support 3 (one easy, one moderate, and one difficult) of the 6 tasks you chose earlier.
  5. Finally you should explain how your application differs from existing applications and how it takes advantage of the unique properties of an integrated mobile device.


You will submit a writeup of roughly 7-12 pages 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.

  • Each team member’s name and a short description (one sentence per person at most) of how they contributed to this assignment.
  • Description of users (1 short paragraph per person). Give a bit of relevant background on each subject. For privacy reasons, do not use real names or identifying information about your subjects.
  • Problem and solution overview (short, 1 paragraph)
  • Contextual inquiry interview descriptions and results (1-2 pages)
  • List of tasks: 6 tasks your application will support; two each of easy, moderate, difficult. (1 page)
  • Task analysis questions (1-2 pages)
  • Interface design (several pages)
  • Functionality summary (what you can do with it)
  • User interface description and sketches (how you use it)
  • Three (3) scenarios of example tasks with sketches
  • Any additional sketches
  • Analysis of Approach (1 page). Explain the pros and cons of your approach and how is compares to alternative techniques.

Writing Guidelines

Target Users (4 points)

Describe the rationale behind your choice of target users. For each of the three customers, give some details of their background, their likes/dislikes and priorities. Avoid information that may reveal their identity.

Problem and Solution Overview (1 pt)

This overview should be a concise statement of the problem you are tackling and a brief synopsis of your proposed solution.

Contextual Inquiry - Interview Descriptions (15 pts)

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 work practices. Then, note anything unique about each interview and comment on the rationale behind these events.

Task Analysis Questions (5 pts)

Answer the 11 task analysis questions. Use examples from your interviews when applicable.

Analysis of Tasks (10 pts)

Choose 6 tasks (2 easy, 2 moderate, 2 difficult tasks) and describe them. These should be real world tasks that have details.

Interface Design (20 pts)

Give a rationale for your design ideas. This section should clearly indicate the functionality of our artifact and what the user interface will be like (described and sketched -- references the figures in your text). You should then describe three scenarios of how someone would use it to accomplish three of the tasks above. Scenarios include the steps customers will go through to accomplish the task. You should include "storyboards" of the sequences described in your three scenarios. The solution section should be the bulk of the write-up and take several pages.

Analysis of Approach (5 pts)

Explain how your application takes advantage of the affordances of Android. If there are other technologies such as TabletPCs, GPS units, PDAs, etc. that could be used to perform the tasks your application addresses, you should explain why using Android is a better approach. List the pros and cons of your approach.

Additional Guidelines


Uploading Images

To upload images to the wiki, first create a link for the image of the form [[Image:image_name.jpg]] (replacing image_name.jpg with a unique image name for use by the server). This will create a link you can follow that will then allow you to upload the image. Alternatively, you can use the "Upload file" link in the toolbox to upload the image first, and then subsequently create a link to it on your wiki page.

Hand in Printout in Class

Print your assignment and hand it in at the begining of class on February 19.

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:

[[Contextual Inquiry-Group:Example Group|Contextual Inquiry]]

Again replace Example Group with your group's name. Look at Group:Example Group for an example. 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: *[[Contextual Inquiry-Group:Example Group|Group:Example Group]]. Hit the edit button for this section to see how I created the link for the Example Group.

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