You will need

a paper form for the interviews, pen, and paper


5–15 minutes per user


3 or more users


1 – preparation of a few questions and final evaluation

Use when...

  • you want to get a quick feedback on a service or a product
  • you plan to innovate or to introduce a new service and you want to find out whether it will suit your users’ needs

Do not use when...

  • you want to know user’s opinion in more detail (try In-depth Interview instead)
  • you need to do a research on a particular sample of users (you cannot influence the sample when conducting contextual interviews)


  1. Prepare a short paper form with two, three, or four simple questions.
  2. Asking your users should take place directly on the site where they engage with the service or in a space whose properties are the subject of your questions. Ask follow-up questions about their actions and opinions.
  3. You can also ask about positive experiences, barriers related to a particular service, or about suggestions for improvement.
  4. Write down the answers and do not forget to make notes about the context of the interview.
  5. Write down the basic findings from the contextual interviews and pass the suggestions to your colleagues.

Keep in mind that...

  • Contextual Interview may, but does not have to, be a part of other research methods such as Observation or Shadowing
  • you should use the space and the context, let the user to demonstrate the situation, go through the problematic points, combine interviews with the minimalistic version of User Testing

Find out more

In the exploring phase, you can use the following methods…

Desk Research

When you need to quickly obtain valuable information

When you need to collect a lot of opinions in a short time

When you need a quick feedback

Download the book Service Design in Libraries

It includes detailed descriptions of case studies from both the Czech Republic and Norway.

Download the book  

Get the design methods card set

You will always have a ready help, which will tell you how to proceed, and which tools to prepare.

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