Karen is the visionary behind InContext’s unique customer-centered design approach, Contextual Design. Karen’s combination of technological and psychological expertise provides the creative framework for driving the development, innovative designs, and design processes.
Recognized as a leader in the design community, Karen has pioneered transformative ideas and design approaches throughout her career. Karen is the inventor of Contextual Inquiry—the industry standard for gathering field data to understand how technology impacts the way people work. Contextual Design provides a revolutionary approach for designing new and existing products based on a deep understanding of the context of use. Most recently, Karen initiated The Cool Project to explore users’ experience of cool products and the rapidly changing role of technology in people’s lives.
Karen co-founded InContext Enterprises in 1992 to use Contextual Design techniques to work with product teams to deliver market data and design solutions to clients across multiple industries. The books, Contextual Design: Defining Customer Centered Systems, and Rapid Contextual Design, are used by companies and universities all over the world. Karen’s new initiative on What Makes Things Cool? was introduced in Interactions magazine in 2010.
Karen is a member of the CHI Academy (awarded to significant contributors in the Computer Human Interaction Association) and in 2010 received CHI’s first Life Time Award for Practice for her impact on the field. Karen holds a doctorate in applied psychology from the University of Toronto.