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Contextual inquiry template

An approach to interviewing and observing people in their own environment

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About the Mural contextual inquiry template

People may say one thing and do another, so it is important to look at not only what people say but also what they do in order to get a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the situation. Contextual Inquiry is a method of observation that involves studying people in their real-world environment and inquiring about their experiences. It is important to approach the situation as a novice, while at the same time maintaining a clear focus on the design challenge, in order to gain the most useful insights.

A successful contextual inquiry requires a combination of active listening, thoughtful questioning, and careful observation to gain meaningful insights that can be applied to the design challenge.

What is contextual inquiry?

Ethnographic research is a method of gathering information by observing people in their natural environment and asking questions about their experiences. It is important to approach the research as a novice and to keep the design challenge in mind while interacting with participants in order to get the most useful information.

How to use the contextual inquiry template

The Mural contextual inquiry template offers a framework to define goals, interview users, and observe behavior in order to get an accurate overview of user experience in a given situation or scenario.

  • Define what you want to learn, and set a goal for the inquiry
  • Use the ‘plan and prepare’ section to think through each aspect of the investigation (who, where, what, etc.)
  • Brainstorm questions to ask with your team
  • Set expectations for participants in the investigation at the outset
  • Define roles and responsibilities for the inquiry
  • Ask questions and make observations
  • Add photos or links for context
  • Gather key takeaways with your team and create action items

How to create a Contextual inquiry template

Mural's collaborative tools help turn research into action

Define goals, brainstorm questions, gather feedback and context, and create action items together in a shared, digital space
Asynchronous collaboration

Asynchronous collaboration

Innovate and collaborate effectively together without booking time on calendars.

Sticky notes & text

Sticky notes & text

Add ideas, action items, and more as a sticky note or text box — then change the colors and cluster to identify patterns and new solutions.



Add comments and tag collaborators for smooth asynchronous communication.

Easy sharing

Easy sharing

There’s no barriers to collaboration with unlimited workspace members on the Free plan.

Icons, GIFs, & images

Icons, GIFs, & images

Express complex ideas visually or lead an engaging team-building activity with Noun Project, GIPHY, and Unsplash integrations.

Find & filter

Find & filter

Search and filter by color, last edited by, and more to unlock patterns and enhance visual collaboration.

Contextual inquiry template frequently asked questions

How do I write a contextual inquiry?

What should I ask in contextual inquiry?

LUMA Institute

Template by LUMA Institute


LUMA offers acclaimed in-person training, custom innovation programs, and a unique digital platform (LUMA Workplace), used by innovators in over 70 countries. Leading organizations around the globe rely on the LUMA System of Innovation — a practical, flexible, and scalable approach to Human-Centered Design.