It’s always fun to see your friends’ stuff in lights. As it turned out, my fellow NUX Newcastle organiser and Orange Bus UXer Joanne Rigby had her work highlighted in absentia in Stavros Garzonis’s presentation on co-design. More on that later.

Garzonis, a self proclaimed “scientist stuck in a designer’s body” has been involved in a lot of participatory design. Participatory design is about finding ways to capture the needs of end users, stakeholders, and the business. That said, it’s not easy: hit only two segments and it could either be blue sky, market-led or unrealistic, and even if you do hit all three, it could be chaos!

However, he challenged everyone to think that they could do it, as long as they think about it as research through design, done through a number of layers.

Stavros Garzonas on the layers of co-design

Stavros Garzonas on the layers of co-design

So, he gave some tips for helping facilitate co-design.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Have checklists of what you need to do at a venue (we have these as Google Docs Templates so they can be replicated and amended as needed). And, like a wedding, plan where you sit people for maximum diversity – mix participants with stakeholders. It’s also good to give the participants homework beforehand (do warn them that it will be shared at the workshop!) to help them invest in the researcher.

Educate your stakeholders. You can get your stakeholders to facilitate if they want to train up internal UX resource, otherwise keep them busy by having one as notetaker. (Speaking of notes, you want a visual notetaker as well to help make the results tangible).

Finally, in what was becoming a recurring theme of the conference, he suggested having set up templates. I was happy to see a familiar persona one shown on screen.

As it turns out, there’s a new-and-improved version available now for free online.

At the beginning of the talk, Garzonis asked how many people could run a workshop, with a show of just a few hands. At the end, he asked it again. Far more hands. As he said, if in doubt, trust the process.

Vicky Teinaki is a user experience designer at Newcastle upon Tyne agency Orange Bus. She is also working on a PhD at Northumbria University about better ways of communicating design methods within the design industry.