Monday, August 14, 2006

Participatory Design and why it's more than UCD

Participation in design is growing...

"The buzz at the Participatory Design Conference (PDC2006) this month in Trento, Italy, was all about dissemination of methods. In the last few years, this community has watched a number of its more radical ideas for working with users go mainstream. ...Ask people what they do? Involve them in discussions about how things are going to work? Listen to them and use their ideas? Participatory methods have lost their value to shock...

What now seems one fairly obvious way to design technology – with user involvement, not just user modelling and testing - comes from an academic tradition that has long promoted ethnography, futures workshops and user advocacy. Some of that tradition has seeped into general practice as 'contextual enquiry' and so on.

But the philosophy has not. And this was the other theme of conversations both during and surrounding the conference. What is the status of the 'users' you are working with? Are they treated as research subjects providing inspiration for design or are they treated as co-designers?

Patrizia Marti of the Communication Science Department at the University of Siena, Italy, summed up the two participatory approaches prevalent in the design world in her keynote talk: "The evolution of the concept of participation in design"."   (Continued via Usability News)               [Usability Resources]

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