Levels of context: The impact of zoom on the contexts we research, design for & implement within
by Meld Studios
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Presented at UX Australia in August, 2011. ...
Presented at UX Australia in August, 2011.
To design the most appropriate products or services, designers need to understand the contexts in which the product or service will sit. With product and service design, there are levels of context to consider, creating an important framework for our research, design and implementation processes.
The 1977 Powers of Ten documentary by Charles and Ray Eames inspires and illustrates levels of context well, showing a frame of focus and then zooming out by a power of ten to show that the initial frame is sitting within an even larger context, with new variables to consider at each level. Applying this zoom construct to design, each level focuses us in on different factors, and this focus impacts the type of research, design and implementation approach we need to take. For example, imagine you are asked to design a mobile application. The levels of context for consideration could be:
Screen elements (ie. space constraint; screen real estate; legibility; colour)
Entire application within a phone (ie. purpose of app within world of other mobile apps; phone form factor; operating system; updates; support teams)
Phone within a hand (ie. computing versus talking; haptics; keyed entry versus touch)
Person with phone on a bus using the application (ie. screen glare; one-handed entry and use; privacy; situations of use)
Janna will demonstrate practical ways for designers to consider these levels of context from the beginning of a project and how to integrate this thinking into every facet of the project. By zooming in to different levels of context we can appropriately understand the people, organisations, settings and situations surrounding the products or services we’re designing. Understanding these levels will impact project focus, research scope, clarify design dependencies, and illustrate what is and isn’t in our control as designers.
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