Karen Holtzblatt

Founder & CEO

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 2011.

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.



Posts by Karen Holtzblatt

Take Our “Women In Technology” Survey!

The Women in Technology Project

New Webinar! “Why Women Stay: Four Drivers of Work Delight”

Our New Book – Contextual Design: Evolved – Is Now Available

Fast Company asks: Is this article Cool?

Finding a Product’s Cool Factor

Know You Are Building the Right Thing – Part 3

Know You Are Building the Right Thing- Part 2

Innovation by Design

Transforming the Business of Law

Know You Are Building the Right Thing- Part 1

InContext at 20

Announcing Interactions Article: What Makes Things Cool?

Methods in Collision

Welcome to InnovationInCool

CHI 2011: The Design of Cool

Beyond the Tower of Babel

The Responsibility of Design

Where is Nokia?

CHI2010: Understanding Cool SIG

CHI 2010: A Celebration of the Value of Field Data

Corporate Identity and Innovation

Don’t Ask Your Customer

Don’t Ask Your Customer—Use Contextual Inquiry

Connectivity Week 2009

Journey to the Center of the Human Psyche

InContext at PDMA 2009 International Conference

Is Friendship Relationship Management Our Future

The Irreverence of Users

Design Opportunities: Look Between the Spaces of Life

Uncovering Essential Requirements for Green Design

Water Drop Torture and Customer Loyalty

Personalized Advertising

Diary of the Brand Switcher

Anatomy of a Mad Navigator

Smart Automation in Everyday Life: The Public Rest Room

Rapid User-Centered Design Techniques

Designing Mobile Applications with Customer Data

Technology and Intimacy: A Tribute to IM from the Voice of This Customer

Why Contextual Inquiry vs Other Marketing Techniques

Personas and Contextual Design

Making Design Meetings Work

Assembling Creative Design Teams

Innovation or Market Research?

Data From a Few Leads to Optimum Results

To Envision the Future, Watch People Today

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