Contextual Interview

A research method combining elements of interviews and observation to understand user behavior within the context of their environment, identify needs and problems, and test products or services.


A Contextual Interview is a research method where interviews are conducted in the user's environment, such as their home or workplace. By observing users in their natural context, researchers gain rich insights into behaviors, routines, and challenges. Contextual Interviews provide a deep understanding of user needs and pain points, guiding user-centered design. They are particularly valuable in fields like product design, software development, and healthcare, where contextual insights can drive innovation and usability.

Suitable for

  • understanding user behavior in the context of their environment, mapping the tools and artifacts that users use during activity, discovering needs, problems, and attitudes of users when testing products and services


Interview Guide

A structured document outlining the key questions, topics, and goals for the contextual interview. It helps ensure that important aspects of the user's context, behaviors, and opinions are covered during the conversation.

Participant Consent Forms

Documents that inform the interview participant about the purpose of the interview, how the information will be used, and their rights as a participant. Participants sign these forms to provide their informed consent to participate.

Audio/Video Recordings

Recorded sessions of the contextual interviews that capture both the verbal responses of the participant and visuals of their environment or any task demonstrations. These recordings can be reviewed and analyzed later for deeper insights.

Interview Notes and Transcripts

Detailed, written records of the interviews that capture the participant's responses, actions, and thought processes during the session. Transcripts facilitate easy reviewing, analyzing, and sharing of findings.

Participant Profiles

A summary of relevant demographic and behavioral information of the interview participants. These profiles help paint a clearer picture of who the users are, their backgrounds, and how they might experience the product or service.

Interview Findings Report

A comprehensive document that synthesizes key insights, observations, and patterns identified across interview sessions. This report can include participant quotes, observed behaviors, pain points, and opportunities for improvement.

Recommendations and Action Plan

A list of suggested improvements, design changes, or new features based on the insights generated from the contextual interviews. The action plan outlines the priority of these recommendations and the steps needed for implementation.



Define Objectives

Determine the purpose and goals of the contextual interview. Identify the research questions you want to answer and create a hypothesis.


Identify Participants

Define the target audience and recruit participants based on your project's criteria. Aim for a diverse representation of users to uncover a range of insights.


Prepare Interview Guide

Create a semi-structured interview guide with open-ended questions that allow participants to share their experiences, thoughts, and opinions related to the research objectives.


Schedule Interviews

Coordinate with participants to schedule the contextual interviews, considering the location, duration, recording methods, and availability of both parties. An optimal session lasts approximately 1-1.5 hours.


Conduct Interviews

During the interviews, researchers observe participants perform tasks in their environment, ask questions, and actively listen to uncover patterns and insights tied to the research objectives.


Take Notes and Record

Document important observations, quotes, and insights throughout the interview. Obtain consent from participants to record audio or video for later analysis.


Summarize Findings

After each interview, write a brief summary highlighting key insights, quotations, and observations that address the research objectives.


Analyze Data

Thoroughly analyze the data collected throughout the interviews, searching for patterns, trends, and correlations that help answer the research questions and support or refute the hypothesis.


Create a Report

Compile findings into a concise and informative report, including an executive summary, participant profiles, key themes and patterns, actionable recommendations, and supporting evidence.


Present and Share Findings

Present the report to stakeholders, highlighting the insights and recommendations gained from the contextual interviews. Use visuals and storytelling techniques to communicate the impact and implications of the research.

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