Context Characteristics

Lens: Type: Characteristic
Context Characteristics:

Measurable qualities of a context.

Characteristics are a detailed inventory of anything in a setting. In a park, characteristics would include trees, fire ants, leaves on the ground, the time of day, the weather, and park benches. In order to design or research within a setting, designers must account for factors involved in the context. These factors set constraints. If there are no park benches in a park, then a design for a new park bench seat cushion would be pointless.

Context-specific characteristic aspects.



Location Laws Size: Context Non-User Actors Available Resources


Climate Sensory

Researching Context Characteristics

Researching characteristics help designers define constraints when designing. Products, services, and systems exist in the world, and they are used in different settings within the world. When designers have an understanding of the accepts of a context, they can design based on the constraints and opportunities those aspects limit or make possible.

Questions to Ask About Context Characteristics

  • Weather: What are the conditions outside or inside?
  • Networks: Is cell signal weak? Is there a structured flow to things where people have to move from one step to another and can’t skip steps?
  • Temperature: What are the conditions outside and inside?
  • Crowding: Are there lots of people? Cows? Cell phones? Do any of these overwhelm the system?
  • Resources: How available to people are resources like water, information, or electricity?
  • Sound: Is it noisy? Is the quiet something that makes the context special?
  • Placement: How far away are some things from other things?

Look for These When Researching Context Characteristics

  • The time of day
  • The temperature
  • How busy or still the place is
  • The style of the room or place in which the experience takes place
  • Any interruptions or distractions from other people
  • If it is loud or quiet

Context Characteristics Examples

  • Direct sunlight: Causes glare on a shiny smartphone screen.
  • Miami University Campus: Georgian red brick means any building designed with a modern aesthetic will feel out of place.
  • Busy, noisy train station: Makes it hard to hear instructions from a guide offering a tour guide service.
  • Formal Concert Hall: Posters with a grunge style stand out when posted.
  • After-Race Marathon Cooldown Station: People are exhausted and would prefer a calming environment.


References and sources that support the inclusion of this Aspects of Experiences for Design component.