When to Use Context Methods: Field and Diary Studies

Summary: Context methods provide an understanding of users’ real-life settings and behaviors. They inform the design of products and services.

Some UX-research methods involve asking users to pretend they’re in a realistic but hypothetical situation. For example, in a usability test, participants may be given the task to book a hotel room for an upcoming vacation to Croatia.

Other UX-research methods like interviews, surveys, and focus groups can involve asking people to describe how they did something in the past. For example, in an interview, we might ask a participant to tell us about the last time that they booked a vacation.

While we hope that users will remember important details or behave as if they really were planning a vacation, there might some important contextual information we’d miss out on by using these user research methods alone.

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