Participatory design and biases of design

Highlighting the notion of participatory design. "Who designs design?"

What is the biases that this picture refers to?

Participatory processes

To understand the importance of participatory processes, we broke it down into smaller themes of communication, resources, diversity, and perspectives. The difference between participatory and non-participatory processes is that participatory processes take a deeper look at issues. Participatory processes help us to better identify problems, build trust between users and designers and thus build communities. The more voices there are, the broader the horizon for solving a design problem, and the results can be more surprising and positive. This also allows mistakes and challenges to be identified earlier in the design process. The user is the expert on what he or she needs from the product or service design. Participatory processes help designers to find more diverse solutions together with users, and when done with a diverse group of users, the final solution has a natural diversity.

How to avoid biases in Participative Design processes?

How does communication between users and designers work? Who can participate? What is the most potential user group? Who makes the final decisions? What are the resources? What about the methods? And where to start?

It is important to find the right ways of communicating that feel natural to all participants and to try to make everyone feel that there is no hierarchy. As a designer, it is important to manage the participative process, in a way that you are not losing time and getting results that do not take the process anywhere. It can be hard to stay on topic and not lose focus while man people are participating in the process. Also organizing different opinions and needs is very important and the recording of the data needs a clear structure. A participative process is always time-consuming and costly since more people interfere with the process and the organizational challenges are bigger. One challenge for the designers can be actually understanding the users. It takes a lot of time and effort to fully engage in the lives and problems in the users' lives and fully feel empathy towards another. One big challenge in the participative process can be the language used since it can set misunderstandings. Another huge challenge is to engage the whole group in the process since usually, some people are more active and louder than others.

Different levels of participation

The level of participation of users depends on the project and on how accurate results are needed. According to figure 5. from Perspectives on Participation in Design by Elizabeth B.–N. Sanders there are three different perspectives: Societal, Use/Experience, and Monetary. Meaning that .... I think that this is just directive and in reality, there are much more levels of participation. I think that the level depends on the human connections that designers and users are able to create during the design process. If the opinions of the users are collected via a research survey the "feeling" of a user stays really light, compared to a face-to-face interview or a co-development workshop for example.

Figure 5. from Perspectives on Participation in Design by Elizabeth B.–N. Sanders. "Three perspectives on PD are positioned at points along the design development process and at various levels of value."

How can you benefit from participation in Design and avoid Design Biases?

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