Contextual inquiry is a user-centered design method that involves observing and interviewing users in their natural environment in order to understand their needs, goals, and behaviors. This allows researchers to see how users interact with a product or service in the context of their everyday lives, providing valuable insights that can inform the design process. Contextual inquiry typically involves four steps: preparing for the field study, conducting field observations, conducting interviews, and returning from the field. The observations and interviews are used to generate a rich set of data, which can be analyzed and synthesized to identify user needs and design implications. This method is often used in conjunction with other user research methods, such as user testing and surveys, to provide a more complete picture of user behavior and needs.
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