Imagine a group of people with different backgrounds. One of them is a designer, and the others are a communication scientist, electrical engineer, biomedical engineer, and entrepreneur. As you may notice, they don’t have so much in common except for their enthusiasm for working for people in the design words “Human-Centered” approach in their careers. 

They were assigned to a project as a team for “Designing,” an inclusive fan experience for visually impaired people. They had some brilliant ideas, but the problem was that there wasn’t a common ground between them about design and its process.

As the team’s designer, I decided to establish a methodology based on the client’s desires, our sponsor, the projects, and, more importantly, the end-users. The methodology I chose for the team to work with was “Participatory Design.”

Let's start with what is participatory design in the first place—a preliminary definition.

“Participatory design can be defined as a process of investigating, understanding, reflecting upon, establishing, developing, and supporting mutual learning between multiple participants in collective reflection-in-action (Schon, 1983). The participants typically undertake the two principal roles of users and designers where the designers strive to learn the realities of the users’ situation while the users strive to articulate their desires aims and learn appropriate techno, logical means to obtain them.”

Source: Robinson and Simonsen, Routledge International Handbook of Participatory Design, Routledge 2012, p.2.

In a nutshell, Participatory Design is a creative approach to engaging and co-creating with users to address their issues and find a way to solve their problems by implementing their feedback every step of the way.

Why this design methodology was chosen in this project?

  1. Our end-users weren’t a type we worked with before or even can imagine or even understand their problem, so it was better to regularly check the findings and prototypes with them, to be on track and don’t go into not useful ideas for them.
  2. The project’s timeframe was short, so it was much more efficient if we had a step-by-step road map to reach our goal and deliver a prototype that made every stakeholder happy and satisfied.

Based on these facts, I studied and combined some participatory design methodologies to tailor one based on team and project needs and requirements. Finally, I came up with this roadmap.

But the Pandemic happened, and we couldn’t work on the project as we programmed at the beginning of the project. Digital meetings, digital prototyping, and most importantly, not being able to meet our end-users in person were some of the factors for changing this roadmap. 

The participatory design methodology was Gladly flexible, and getting back on the track was doable with implementing some changes in steps and details of the roadmap. 

With all the ups and downs in our digital working path, we made our idea to a working prototype for Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam. 

Here is a video of the project, for more information, please visit the project’s website.