Understanding Context Book Cover

Making sense of making sense.

Technology is destabilizing the way we understand our surroundings. From social identity to ubiquitous mobility, digital information keeps changing what here means, how to get there, and even who we are. Why does software so easily confound our perception and scramble meaning? And how can we make all this complexity still make sense to our users?

Understanding Context, by Andrew Hinton, offers a powerful toolset for grasping and solving the challenges of contextual ambiguity. By starting with the foundation of how people perceive the world around them, it shows how users touch, navigate, and comprehend environments made of language and pixels, and how we can make those places better.

Understanding Context is ideal for information architects, user experience professionals, and designers of digital products and services of any scope. If what you create connects one context to another, you need this book.

Available in print and all major e-book formats!

Advance Praise…

“Andrew takes us on a journey from not knowing to knowing; he asks good, interesting questions about the role context plays in the design and architecture of understanding.” —Richard Saul Wurman

“…come away better situated in a world remade (but not replaced) by technology, and get ready to give it better architecture.” —Malcolm McCullough

"...masterfully makes the case for meeting users where they are, and putting context in its proper place: at the center of making meaningful design." —Dana Chisnell

“Andrew’s book helps us perceive, make sense of, and engage with the contexts that surround us…” —Louis Rosenfeld 

“…a thoughtful, well-researched, and insightful book, full of key ideas to help you navigate the connected future.” —Dave Gray

See full (and more) early reactions to Understanding Context ...

Published by O'Reilly Media

Sponsored by The Understanding Group

Follow on Twitter @contextbook

Some of what you will learn ... 

  • How language creates infrastructure in organizations, software applications, and the Internet of Things.
  • Where labels, relationships, and rules factor into a design project, and how they are building blocks for creating clear contexts. 
  • Essential elements of how users understand the environment through embodied cognition.
  • Models for figuring out the contextual angles of any user experience.
  • How composition and narrative can create coherence for users over time and across channels.
  • Why some places seem to make sense, and some don't, and why digital information makes sensemaking even more challenging.
  • How information functions in three modes — physical, semantic, and digital — that stitch together the “maps we live in.”


About the Author

Andrew Hinton is an information architect and user-experience strategy consultant, currently employed full time at State Farm in Atlanta, GA. Andrew is an associate (and past employee) of The Understanding Group, and a founding member of the Information Architecture Institute. Since the early 90s, he has helped organizations large and small make better places with information. He tweets at @inkblurt, and keeps a launch-pad of links to more information at andrewhinton.com