In today’s era designers are constantly using innovative ways to enhance the design. The race of jazzing up the design or UX design has made it possible to get close to the users. One such approach is Contextual Research. 

What is Contextual Research? 

We can define contextual Research as, “the designer going out in the user’s natural environment observing their behaviour and the potential interactions with the interface”

Here, the designer closely maps the user journey. The designer then notes down the insights and creates a UI/UX based on the user’s requirements and expectations. Since this approach changes the dynamic of research, the data collected is immensely useful.

Contextual Design Process Chart:

Contextual InquiryStoryboarding
Interpretation SessionUser Environment Design
Work Models & Affinity DiagrammingPaper Mock-Up Interviews
VisioningInteraction & Visual Design

What are the Advantages of Contextual Research?

Interactiveness in Contextual Research on UX Design
This also means interacting with users to understand them better.


Contextual Research is all about stepping into the user’s shoes. This also means interacting with users to understand them better.  This interaction takes us closer to the user and helps us deliver a more promising interface.


This research is also a measure for the usability of the app/website experience you created. Since the user is in his own environment, it’s a natural setting for him/her. This familiarity helps the researcher to gain real-life insights about the usability of the design. 

This is an insightful blog on how contextual research helps designers to understand potential users’ behaviour and their interactions with interfaces. The advantages and the process are an eye opener. I insist its a must-read blog.

– Pooja Kulkarni (UX Designer)

Unconsidered Factors: 

Since this research is more hands on than the others, it helps us recognise more elements than what usually meets the eye. It introduces us to several factors that we might have not considered otherwise. 

Actual Actions: 

Unlike any ordinary research, contextual research doesn’t always make the user conscious of the research. Thus, because of the natural environment being offered, we can witness their actual journey with the app/website.

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Qualitative Analysis: 

It is believed that Contextual Research is one of the best forms of research. The proximity with the user helps in understanding the touchpoints and make the design user-friendly. 

Contextual Research Process on UX Design
Contextual research is about assuring the user that it is research for the product and not the user.

What is the Process of Contextual Research?

In practice, it is about assuring the user that it is research for the product and not the user. This will prevent pressurizing themselves and giving truthful experiences rather than made-up feedback. 

Secondly, the research team should be well aware of what they exactly want to test during the research. 

We can classify the flow of contextual research into three steps:

The Introduction: 

This is where the researcher and user establish a relationship and discuss the purpose of the research. 

Main Body: 

The Main Body is the juice of the fruit. This is exactly where the research team records the user’s behaviour with your product and note it down simultaneously. 


This phase includes discussing the user’s action with the user to clear any misconceptions. The research findings are then consolidated to apply to the product.

UI and UX designing is all about constant innovation and evolution that deliver user-centric products. Thus, contextual research is the way to go about it. If you wish to know more about how to carry out this research and apply its outcomes to your digital product, connect with us!

FAQs For Contextual Research on UX Design

What are the Advantages of Contextual Inquiry?

Contextual inquiry provides rich data that can be used to design better products and services. It helps to build a strong relationship between the user and the researcher. Contextual inquiry can help to uncover user requirements that may be hidden or difficult to articulate. And contextual inquiry is an iterative process that allows for constant feedback and refinement. This ensures that the final product or service is more likely to meet the user’s needs.

What is the context of use in the Design?

In design, the context of use is the environment in which a product or system will be used. It includes factors such as the users’ needs and abilities, the physical environment, the task the user is trying to accomplish, and the culture in which the user is situated. By understanding the context of use, designers can create products and systems that are more user-friendly and effective.

What is a Contextual Example?

An example of contextual is when a designer can go into the environment of the user to understand the interaction and create concepts and ideas that lead to a good user experience.

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I have spent a good amount of my working career trying to become a better designer. I look for design inspiration beyond websites and apps since designing an experience is not restricted to digital softwares. Apart from designing I like to spend my time learning and growing as a dancer. I am a ballroom dancer, I have learned styles like Salsa, Bachata and a few more. Lastly, if we are having a conversation I can make you laugh…………..mostly………....sometimes