From products to people, from people to contexts. If products answer to people that react to specific contexts of use, it is legitimate to talk about context-centered design.
We know that a product only makes sense when developed according to the needs and aspirations of people. After all, people are the ones who use the products, and without them a product is just another product. But we must keep in mind that people’s needs and aspirations change with the context of use. The way you use your phone at home, is it the same way as when you are commuting or at the beach? Of course not: it changes as your context change.
Being innovation strongly related to people’s needs and the way they live their everyday, we defend that the quest for innovation must start from the context of use, through a context-centered design process.
Imagine a shampoo bottle. To innovate in this product category we really need to know its context of use. So we must think of the shampoo bottle not only on the supermarket shelf or in consumers’ hands but also, and especially, in the bath space with moisture and steam, with complementary products around, and most certainly with a sleepy user in a hurry to go
to work. Everything changes and the opportunities arise.
Design must focus on the context and not just on people, since the first changes the behavior of the second. During a focus group, perceiving a shampoo bottle is one thing but at 7 a.m. in the shower it will be another.
Example: musical nightlight for babies. At the moment of purchase, the product works, it’s nice and proportional; music conveys a sense of tranquility and the materials suggest safety. Besides, music has the function of nightlight and can be attached to the crib. It’s really a user-centered product (babies/parents). In the context, everything changes! A baby who wakes up hungry at 4 a.m. gets even more annoyed with the noise of these product – at 4 a.m. any noise is deafening, even that song that in the store seemed harmless.
At Inngage, our design process in context centered, able to collect contextual information by creating empathy with people. We can only produce quality products if we feel what people feel at the time of use and if we interact with their context of use.
Products should no longer be validated and approved in meeting rooms: it is in the context and through experience that we validate the impact of a product.