Contextual Personas are descriptions that bring users to life. The descriptions are based on information from users, for example from interviews.
- Used to inform IT professionals about the work context of a given group of workers to extend their understanding of users and their broad needs.
- Recommended to make contextual Personas at the start of the product development process.
- Download the template below
- Decide a user group that you want to base the persona on
- Gather the material from user studies you have, that would fit the contextual persona. Often the material for one contextual persona, can come from many users
- Write a one page description which encapsulates understanding and empathy, and includes work context and goals of the contextual persona emphasising control, demands and social support in the work situation
- Share the description with people that you want to discuss the persona with to gather feedback on the description
- Update the description of the contextual persona according to the feedback you got
Contextual Think Aloud
Contextual Think Aloud
Contextual Think Aloud method is a variation of traditional think-aloud evaluations with users, that focuses more on including the digital work environment in the evaluation.
- Used to gather feedback for IT professionals on how a particular prototype fits into the work context of a given group of workers.
- The feedback should extend their understanding of users and their broad needs.
- Recommended to use it when a prototype has been made for an IT system to be used in a work-related context.
- Decide the focus of the contextual think aloud evaluation
- Decide the focus of what you can ask users to do during the evaluation that covers the whole work situation
- Make tasks to ask the user to solve during contextual think aloud evaluation that fits the focus of the evaluation
- Be sure to have at least 5 task
- Be sure that the users would use 20 minutes to solve the tasks
- If shorter or longer, you have to add or skip tasks
- Make all he other material for the contextual think aloud evaluation ready
- The introduction text
- The background questions, which should include questions related to the whole work situation
- The introduction to the prototype
- The debriefing questions, which should include questions on how this system would fit the whole work context
- Plan the conduction of the contexual think aloud
- Decide which users you would like to involve
- Try to include users with various work context
- Plan when, where and which people would be involved
- Ask the people, you would like to involve, if they are available for the user testing
- Decide who will be in each role (conductor, notetaker, running the prototype, if needed) in each contextual think-aloud session
- Template for defining the material for contextual think-aloud evaluation
- Template for planning the conduction of contextual think-aloud evaluation
Outcome for the planning:
- A list of at least 5 tasks to be used in the contextual think-aloud evaluation
- The other material to be used when conducting contextual think-aloud evaluation
- The plan for the contextual think-aloud evaluation sessions
- The conductor welcomes the user
- The conductor reads the introduction to the user
- The conductor asks the user the background questions
- The conductor reads the introduction to the prototype
- The conductor asks the user to solve the tasks one by one
- If the prototype is on paper, the right page is put infront of the user
- When the user has done all the tasks, or if 25 minutes have gone, the conductor asks the debriefing questions on the experiences of the user during the contextual think aloud
- The conductor and the note taker write notes on what they see could be improved
- Especially, if the user is: a) Frustrated, b) Slowed down; c) Not able to complete the task, d) Is confused or does not understand or e) Needs help
- Write direct quotes, observations and interpretations
Interpreting the results
After each contextual think-aloud session
- Write positive comments from the user on post-it notes (preferably green or yellow post-its)
- Write negative comments from the user on post-it notes with a different color (fx. Red or bright pink)
- Make one column for each user on a blackboard/whiteboard marked by: user 1, user 2, ….
- Make lines for each task on the blackboard/whiteboard
- Put up the post-it notes for each user in each slot on the blackboard
After the contextual think-aloud you should answer the questions:
- What can we learn from the contextual think-aloud?
- Do we like to continue developing this product?
- If so, is there anything we would like to add, remove?
- How does the system fit the work context?
- Do we need to change the interface?
- Do we need to change the flow?
- Do we need to change the wording?
- A stack of post-it notes with the feedback and issues observed during the contextual think aloud evaluation
- Answers from users to the questions above