Context of Use: The Final Frontier in the Practice of User-Centered Design?

Eyal Eshet*, Harry Bouwman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


User-centered design (UCD) practitioners in industrial context are often faced with multilevel factors that hinder their effort to involve users in the context of use, and so meet one of the core UCD principles. Seen the heterogeneous and dynamic context of mobile system use, applying this principle becomes more challenging. Based on in-depth interviews with various mobile practitioners in Finland and the Netherlands, we explore the core factors that affect UCD practitioners in meeting this challenge. Our findings confirm the impact of the professional-client relationship as a key factor that inhibits the involvement of users. Novelty aspects, e.g. practitioners' unfamiliarity with the users and the perceived innovativeness of the designed system, largely explain the involvement of users in situ. Interestingly, these conditions are not idiosyncratic to mobile computing. We discuss the contextual factors' implications on UCD and emphasize alternative strategies that support practitioners in their effort to involve users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-390
Number of pages23
JournalInteracting with Computers
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Empirical studies in HCI
  • Empiricalstudies in interaction design
  • Ubiquitous and mobile computing
  • User-centered design


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