School of Information

Contextual inquiry Project for University of Michigan
School of Information Media Services Department

Time: Sep'11 - Dec'11
Design Methods: Contextual Inquiry, Information Architecture, Project Management
Tools: Contextual Inquiry Interview, Work-Flow Model Analysis, Affinity Diagram
Link: Spotlight on the actual SI web-site
Downloads: Project Plan, Final Report, Final Presentation

For my Contextual Inquiry class I worked in a team that analyzed the spotlight process for School's Media Services Department.


Analyze University of Michigan School of Information's Spotlight process for Media Service Department.
Spotlights are one-page features of stakeholders which are displayed on the SI website to convey the value of SI. This project evaluated the process by which SI Media Services creates these profiles, track information pertaining to them, how this information influences actions in the process and provided recommendations.

spotlight example-1
spotlight example-2
Examples of spotlights on the U of M School of Information website.


In this project we examined the process from candidate identification to Spotlight publication through interviewing the stakeholders, studying artifacts and by creating detailed work models. We finally gathered all this information in an affinity diagram. By consolidating key issues we formulated recommendations for the client.


We collected artifacts from the client and analyzed them for their structure, intent and usage in the system.

table relationships
One of the artifact that we studied for this project.

Workflow models and affinity wall

We interviewed seven individuals connected with the Spotlight process in some way. Interviews were followed by group interpretation sessions dedicated to identifying the key insights, ideas, and breakdowns that were brought to light during the course of each interview. These analysis sessions allowed us to create “affinity notes”, as well as various models of the work flow, that we later used to identify overarching issues and to brainstorm recommendations for improving the process. We were able to identify four major findings through our inquiry process.

Affinity Wall
Consolidated workflow after interviewing the stakeholders

Affinity Wall
One of the charts on Affinity wall
table relationships
Label organization on the affinity wall


This project taught us how to examine an organization's current information use in the context of work practice and discover and recommend improved ways of working. We have also developed project management skills by creating a realistic and achievable project plan, organization and execution of the project processes in given time frame and by working within project constraints.

Group Members

Jane Davis, Anand Geetey, Mandy Krug , Ramachandra Vijjapurapu