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Wisdom of the crowd: how participatory design has evolved design briefing

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date30/11/2012
JournalSwedish Design Research Journal
Journal number12
Volume2
Number of pages10
Pages28-37
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Design has changed considerably over the last two decades, adopting and embracing a wider remit of responsibility and application (Thomson, Sissons and Montgomery, 2012). Instead of being viewed as the sole activity of a lone practitioner, it is now being recognized as more inclusive, with the role of non-designers in the process becoming increasingly important (Murphy 2011; see also Brown, 2008; 2009; Sanders and Stappers, 2008). Some may argue that the lines between designers, clients and users are gradually becoming blurred (Maciver and O’Driscoll, 2010). Consequently, the authors propose that this drive towards participation (and more recently, taking this further – co design) means the design briefing process has also evolved, from a specification document to a dynamic, non-linear, process, which engages the clients, designer, users and other stakeholders in this age of participation. Formerly, the client would present a problem to the designer, and the designer, knowing their “place”, would dutifully respond with a solution, using their design expertise to design something with the “user in mind”, but not involved. Evaluation would take place at the end of the project, and performance metrics likely to be determined by the client at the outset (Phillips, 2004). Today however, we see a remarkably different client/ designer relationship – and we posit that this has had a significant impact on the briefing process, cultivating a more inclusive and engaging learning experience. Designers are now framing the problem and developing solutions with clients and users – and actively involving users throughout the entire process. This dynamic relationship becomes a trade-off between the designer’s Expertise in design, the client’s Experience of their business and indeed the user’s Engagement in the whole process, which the authors propose as the 3E approach. The whole process makes for a “mutually-engaging” briefing experience, which enhances participation and provides a collective learning opportunity.