Milestone 2: Contextual Inquiry

Milestone Mission

In this session we gathered users' feedback and tried to understand their perspectives of using Gallery through Contextual Inquiry interviews. It provided us with strong evidence on usage patterns, and insight into Gallery's main problems.

The information we collected is key to our future steps. It helped us to better understand the real-life problems while using Gallery as an administrator, a visitor website powered by Gallery, and also, a passer-by.


We tried to gather a broad user group in order to get a comprehensive understanding of users' experiences and expectations. We interviewed five users in total, including three Gallery users, and two potential users.

Interview with user U1

Interview plan

Our main focus during the interviews was concerned with the usability of Gallery as a photo organizer.

The documents used in our contextual inquiry are:

The following are the categories of questions included in our interviews, used to gather comprehensive data for future analysis.

Users' background and computer expertise.
Users' Gallery use cases.
Other online photo organizers/web services used.
Features that users like.
The sequence of actions that users perform for sharing photos online using Gallery

Interpretation session

Although our team divided up into different pairs for the interviews, we decided to perform the interpretation session altogether, in order to have a comprehensive understanding the diverse information.

Each interpretation session included understanding of the notes taken during the interview, and writing out individual understandings according to the interpretation. As the sessions progressed, our understanding of the Gallery usage grew.

The result of the interpretation sessions was a collection of about 200 affinity notes.

Interpretation session


Sequence Model

We went to create sequence model for each user, which could help construct the affinity diagram later on. 

Sequence model helped us grasp the typical sequence of actions that the user took as well as work breakdowns. The breakdowns were critical in identifying the key problems associated with the use of Gallery.

Sequence models

Affinity Diagram

The notes that had resulted out of the interpretation sessions formed the basis of our affinity diagram. The affinity diagram includes a lot of different steps:

First, we put all the affinity notes (more than 200 yellow notes in our case) on the white board, roughly group them under five categories:

  • User preferences
  • Problems with Gallery
  • The good features in Gallery
  • Wish list of Features
  • Competitors of Gallery and their features

All yellow notes on board

Second, we screened the yellow notes to make sure every note has a unique content.

Third, we built a structure of our affinity diagram by creating the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th hierarchy, which are represented by pink, orange, and green notes in our case.

Work on the affinity diagram


The final Affinity Diagram!

The hierarchy of our affinity diagram is depicted in this list.

 © PhototiC, 2008-2010