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Contextmapping: experiences from practice
To appear in CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, Vol. 1 No. 2, Taylor and Francis, 2005

FROUKJE SLEESWIJK VISSER!, PIETER JAN STAPPERS, REMKO VAN DER LUGT ID-Studiolab, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Landbergstraat 15, 2628CE, Delft, The Netherlands ELIZABETH B.-N. SANDERSMakeTools, LLC 183 Oakland Park Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43214 USA Abstract: In recent years, various methods and techniques have emerged for mapping the contexts of people's interaction with products. Designers and researchers use these techniques to gain deeper insight into the needs and dreams of prospective users of new products. As most of these techniques are still under development, there is alack of practical knowledge about how such studies can be conducted. In this paper we share our insights, based on several projects from research and many years of industrial practice, of conducting user studies with generative techniques. The appendix contains a single case illustrating the application of these techniques in detail. Keywords: contextmapping, user experiences, generative techniques,design conceptualisation

1 Introduction
Increasingly, designers need information about the contexts of people’s interactions with products in order to design products that fit into the lives of the people who will use them. In combination with information about the company (e.g., marketing, production capabilities) and about the skills of the design team (multidisciplinary: professionaldesigners, engineers, usability professionals) the contexts of product use form an innovative base for human-centred design (Sanders and Dandavate, 1999). Recent literature on design conceptualisation shows an increased interest in the role of contextual information in driving the design process, e.g., Bodker (2000), Hekkert and van Dijk (2001), Mattelmaki and Batterbee (2002) and Grudin and Pruitt(2002). Our work on contextmapping involves users intensively in creating an understanding of the contexts of product use, and therefore can be regarded as a form of Participatory Design. In Participatory Design (Schuler, 1993) users and other stakeholders participate in the design process to ensure that the resulting designs fit the way people will actually use the product in their own lives.Traditionally, Participatory Design has involved users in evaluative research: testing existing products or prototypes of developed concepts. In exploring contexts, users are involved in what is called generative research, which inspires and informs the design team in the early phases of the design process. Cultural probes (Gaver, Dunne and Pacenti, 1999) and generative techniques (Sanders, 2001) aretwo sets of techniques we have focused on in our work. These techniques aim to create context awareness by eliciting emotional responses from the participants. Figure 1 shows
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Corresponding author. Tel: +31-15-2789223 Email: f.sleeswijkvisser@io.tudelft.nl 1

generative techniques used in a group session. Such sessions produce varied and rich views, anecdotes, and explanations about theexplored context which include the use situation and the users’ concerns, memories, feelings, and experiences surrounding it. These kinds of findings are highly informative and inspiring to design teams.

Figure 1 Participants in a group session with generative techniques for the shaving experience study (Sleeswijk Visser, 2003). Participants make collages about their shaving experience and presentthese to the group.

Putting these techniques in practice relies on experienced researchers and a good deal of common sense. Most publications tell you the why behind the generative techniques, but rarely report practical knowledge about actually conducting studies. In this paper we would like to fill some of the gaps in the procedure. In recent years we have been exploring the potential of...
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