Contextual Inquiry is a deeper form of ethnographic interview and observation. It is particularly useful for developing accurate scenarios – the stories of how users might interact with potential features. It is also usual in identifying aspects of the user’s environment that will affect how someone might use a particular product.
We often apply this technique by asking a user to perform a typical task or series of tasks in a website or application they currently use. If the application is still under development, we’ll ask a user to perform a scripted task for a mockup of the future application, with particular focus on key features or workflows.