Tools, Methods and Techniques for Designing with Users

  • Joyce Akinyi Akach University of Nairobi
Keywords: Approaches, Co-design, Framework, Methods, Techniques, Tools


The field of co-design has grown exponentially in the last 20 years. This is evidenced by an increasing number of non-designers getting involved in design projects. The rationale for the engagement of non-designers in design projects is that the involvement of users ensures their inclusion in knowledge development, idea generation and concept development of products and systems, whose ultimate goal is to serve the interests of the same users. The projects aims of co-design have developed, from being mainly about ICT development to include, for instance, service design, housing development, behavioral change interventions and product development, amongst others. Building on the tenets of participatory design, and being a relatively new approach to designing, a desktop research was carried out that looked at co-design information published in journals, books, reports and internet blogs. The focus of this study was to highlight some of the tools, methods and techniques used to enable co-design. The findings show that three approaches, along which tools are developed, have been used for co-design, namely; telling, making and enacting activities. Telling activities include use of narratives and story telling, gaming and future workshops. Making activities include use of prototypes, probes and generative tools. Enacting activities include use of theater techniques and scenario building. From the exemplars in this study, it was noted that tools are not used in isolation, but are often used in combination. In conclusion, the study proposes a framework for co-design participation that can be used by designers in determining the choice of co-design tools based on intent of use, such as, for probing participants, for priming participants in order to immerse them in the area of interest, to better understand their experiences and lastly, for generating ideas for design concepts.