To collect and agree detailed information about:
- Who are the intended users
and what are their tasks?
(Why will they use the system? What is their experience and expertise?)
- What are the technical
constraints? (What types of hardware will be used in what organisational,
technical and physical environments?)
- Ensure that all factors that relate to use of the system are
identified before design work starts.
- Provide a basis for designing later usability tests
Arrange a half-day meeting. Invite stakeholders who have knowledge
about the intended users and usage. This may include:
- project manager
- user representative(s)
The first two are key areas. You will also need a facilitator and
a person to record the information provided during the meeting.
To obtain information on the context of use, a detailed checklist
will be needed (see below).
- Provide all participants with a copy of the context of use checklist.
Discuss and fill in each item on the context checklist. Try to
obtain consensus where there is uncertainty or disagreement. If
information is missing, agree how this can be obtained. Avoid prolonged
discussion of minor issues.
Obtain any missing information. If the information is not easily
available, arrange a field study to observe
users in their work environment.
Circulate to all participants a summary of the conclusions, and
the filled in checklist.
Detailed information on usability context analysis and a comprehensive
checklist can be found in the Usability
Context Analysis Guide[600K]
Other simpler checklists can be found in:
When using a detailed checklist, to avoid prolonging the meeting
it is important to fill in advance any items that are not contentious.
If it is impossible to arrange a meeting, the information can be
gathered by interviewing the stakeholders. This has the disadvantage
that there is no opportunity to establish consensus on, and commitment
to, the usage characteristics.
For simpler systems, the context information can be collected as
part of the stakeholder meeting, using a less structured process.
Generate scenarios to provide examples
of usage as an input to design.