Generate ideas


   |Participatory Design

Participatory Design actively involves all stakeholders (e.g., employees, partners, customers, citizens, end users) in the design process to help ensure that the result meets their needs and is usable.

Session Length: 60-90+ minutes Group Size: 4+ people Prep Time: 60+ minutes


Use this tool:

  • To understand how people think about a problem, discipline, or technology.
  • When what the users say they do and what they actually do are not the same
  •  Where there is, or could be any cultural or political disconnect between you and the end user.


Observing the users’ process and listening to their explanations of why they built their “perfect world” software or product can reveal helpful insights not typically available through a typical interview with the users. Participatory design’s inclusive approach helps designers create more innovative concepts and ideas than they do when creating ideas on their own.


STEP 1: Build a guide for the session and prepare some materials that will prompt discussion among participants. Typical prep time (setting goals, writing questions, selecting activities) is usually two hours for each 15-minute exercise.
STEP 2: Identify users and invite them to participate in a session. Plan to spend 60-90 minutes with the group.
STEP 3: Ask questions phrased as “How might we solve for problem X?” The designer helps to
interpret what the participant is thinking, and the team works together to capture needs,
ideas, and decisions. It is important to adopt a curious, open posture and create a “high-trust” environment where each participant is free to share and contribute.
STEP 4: Try to involve your whole team so that everyone gets face time with the users. This tool works well when combined with other tools from the toolkit, such as the following (you can use several):
· Journey Mapping
· Card Sorting
· Prototyping
· Storyboarding


Download this tool to print out and start using with your team. Each download includes a tool description and if applicable, a template and example.