What is context?

The context of a product is the circumstances or setting in which an object is used, and which add to its meaning.  A customer’s satisfaction with a product depends on the context of its use.  Consider the cup holder design shown in figure 1.  The drinks in the cup holder block access to the radio.  Do you think the customer will be satisfied with the design of the cup holder?
Figure 1. The drinks in this poorly designed cup holder block access to the controls of the radio.
The designer did not take into account the context of the cup holder.  He should have known that one circumstance of the product would be that the user would want to use the cup holder and the radio at the same time.
  The triathlon watch shown in figure 2 is another example of designers not considering the context of their designs.   Triathlons are athletic events composed of swimming, cycling and running.
 A user purchased the  “Triathlon” model, so she could time herself in the pool and confirm she was counting the laps correctly. After just a few workouts, the watch filled up with water!  She took it back to the retailer and they happily replaced it, saying that she must have accidentally pushed the buttons under water!   The user was not a satisfied customer.  The watch was water resistant to 100 meters. Even worse the instruction booklet that came with the watch had the following warning on the last page of the instructions :
This limitation is ridiculous since using the watch to keep track of laps in the pool involves pressing buttons on the watch while swimming.  These and other examples of designers not considering the context of their products can be found here.
Click here to learn how customer satisfaction depends on the context the customer is using the product.

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