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Co-designing with children and young people

Co-designing with children and young people

When it comes to designing a website for others it feels far quicker and easier to just get on with it yourself but there are a couple of downsides to that.

1. Often not quicker.

2. Often not easier.

I know it seems like it should be but  chances are it won’t feel that way anymore once the endless amends come rolling in.

The alternative? To involve the intended user in the design process. That way you know exactly what they want and what they need. What you create will be a lot closer to that than if you attempt things without their input. You’ll save yourself time and money in the long run.

We here at focus have created multiple websites for young people and the best results always come from working directly with them. Listening to what they have to say, understanding what they want and how we can give them just that to enhance their online experience.

Hosting a workshop is a great way to find this out. If you aren't used to working directly with young people, here are a few tips. They may not be your typical google answers but they are tried and tested methods that work for me so I hope they can help you too.

After a brief overview of why you’re all there, what you want to achieve and how it will benefit those who have attended (essentially the end user) that’s when you want to get them talking. What they have to say is invaluable so make sure they feel comfortable enough to share it with you. A relaxed atmosphere makes all the difference. There are subtle ways to create this:

1. You may need to stand initially to get their attention and make them aware of where their focus should be but don’t stay that way, it screams classroom. Sit with the young people to listen to their opinions, preferably avoiding forming a ‘head’ of the table. King Arthur had the right idea with his round table!

2. Dress smart but casual so you appear professional but not overly authoritative. When people feel comfortable, they are more likely to be forthcoming with ideas. Please don't try to dress like them if that's not you, do I need to explain why?

3. Go in with a plan but make sure it’s one you’re willing to ditch should it appear to not be working. It’s an idea to have a few back up topics or activities should that be the case. There are a lot of different attention spans to cater for.

4. Remember teenagers are just as socially aware and intelligent as adults, don’t confuse naivety with a lack of intelligence.

5. Remember how things felt when you were that age; will people think my ideas are silly? how much longer do I have to be here? I don’t want to talk in front of everyone… and so on. Consider ways to approach these insecurities.

6. Many teenagers are still trying to find their own identity so they take things they associate with themselves quite seriously. They can be easily influenced so may give the opinion they think will impress others and not what will please them. Perhaps some things could go to a vote such as colours and fonts and this could be done anonymously, throwing their answers in a box.

7. When working with young people there’s a tendency to attempt to be ‘cool’ but as long as it’s a well-thought out, hands-on, and active workshop you can do without the slang and graffiti graphics.

Co-design means service users (in this case, young people) and designers working together to create something that takes into account the different views, needs and wants of the community. The best way to create services for young people, is in collaboration with them. Put the user at the heart of the design process and you’ll create effective and innovative solutions.

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Friday November 24 2017 04:00 PM


Tags: co-design children youngpeople workshop


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