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by Astrid Lubsen June 2010 Citilab-Cornellà

Citilab little handbook on people-centered design


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First of all I would like to thank Ramon Sangüesa, Director of innovation for making this project possible. Furthermore I would like to thank: Jordi Carrasco, Communication Rosa Maria Casanovas, Seniorlab Jordi Colobrans, Research, Breakout Pau Domínguez, Aprendizaje Isidor Fernández, Audio visual/ Social media José Garcia, Aprendizaje/ Programación Joan Guell, Programación Irene Lapuente, Expolab Rafael Martín, Hort Digital/ Aprendizaje Alba Ortiz, Hort Digital/ Aprendizaje Laia Sánchez, Audio visual / Social media Enric Senabre, UrbanLabs/ Breakout Dolors Solano, Seniorlab Ricardo Torres, Hort Digital for their active participation in the project usuaris @ctius. Many thanks for all your effort, patience and valuable contributions during and beyond the course.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design


WHAT IS USUARIS ACTIUS? Usuaris @ctius is a project that took place from November 2009 to April 2010 in Citilab-Cornellà. It involved practical training about user-centered design methods for staff members of Citilab. Citilab-Cornellà is an organisation that stimulates people-driven innovation by creating a fascination of the tools, methods and concepts of digital technology. The Citilab staff facilitates events, trainings and projects in which citizens actively participate in innovation. In usuaris @ctius the staff learned tools and techniques to facilitate creative processes, and to investigate people´s needs. These methods are considered useful for all Citilab employees who are involved in projects with citizens. This handbook is written for the participants of usuaris @ctius as a reference after the course. Secondly people who are new to Citilab can use this book to get introduced into people centered design.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

WHAT IS THIS BOOK ABOUT? This is a handbook for setting up and execute projects in which citizens have a role in innovation. It consists of three sections that provide insight and ideas for including users in Citilab projects. CITILAB AND INNOVATION WITH CITIZENS The first section (page 9-33) introduces the Citilab vision on innovation with citizens and digital technology. It describes its typical project based approach, and explains why collaboration with citizens is the core of all activities. DIY: PROJECTS WITH CITIZENS The second section (page 35-43) gives guidelines for getting started with citizens in a new project. An action list and a set of guidelines help to make decisions and plan for user involvement in your specific situation. SELECTED TOOLS & TECHNIQUES The last section of the handbook (page 45-85) contains examples of techniques from the field of user-centered design, to understand and co-create with people. Every example is shortly explained in two pages. The proposed techniques can be seen as building blocks that can fit into a project process. The selection of techniques can be seen as a basis for further development: the Citilab staff will adapt and extend the collection as they work with the techniques.



Citilab little handbook on people-centered design


CITILAB AND INNOVATION WITH CITIZENS This section gives an introduction in the vision of Citilab on innovation from digital technology with citizens. It explains the importance to include citizens in innovation in the current knowledge society, how Citilab currently works with citizens in projects and trainings, and how Citilab eventually aims to stimulate citizens to become active and autonomous innovators.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

AN APPROACH TO INNOVATION FROM DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY The mission of Citilab is to ´design the future with citizens´, exploiting and spreading the impact of digital technology on creative thinking, design and innovation. The centre gives space to citizens who are involved in training and projects, and it functions as an incubator for developer communities, business startups and social initiatives. The first step towards the long term objective is to promote the use of digital technologies to citizens. Currently the Citilab staff members offer a variety of courses to the citizens in order to provide them with skills and knowledge in the field of digital technology. The next step will be to promote the construction and innovation of the Information Society with, and by these citizens. The vision is that methods based on design thinking, participatory design and open design should be applied in this process, and be adapted to the open source and 2.0 culture that characterizes Citilab.



Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

SIX QUESTIONS ON INNOVATION WITH CITIZENS Ramon Sangüesa is director of innovation in Citilab. In this interview he explains his ideas on the transition from citizens as passive ´users´ to citizens who actively participate in innovation of the knowledge society. Can you describe how the education in Citilab differs from ´traditional´ education? It is a “learning by doing” and “learning together” project-based approach. Once citizens have learned the basics in digital technology, Citilab aims at facilitating their transition from ´users´ of digital technology towards active creators who autonomously organize themselves in communities that innovate in the knowledge society. This requires that they also incorporate the ways of thinking and designing that are associated with the types of design and organization emerging from years of research, development and innovation in the digital world. This is why Citilab tries as a much as possible to work on a learning programme that is centered around the concept of a project. Now, what is a project? A project is the development and realization along time of an idea that interests a group. Of course, “projects” that interest plain citizens are, most of the time, very tenously connected to technology: people want to


cook together, tinker with tools, create their own documentaries, renovate their house, improve their working prospects, etc. These, for Citilab, are very legitimate project starting points. We have to be very respectful about where people are, where they start from as well as about their motivations. The goal of Citilab facilitators is to be able to understand the points of departure of the citizens, and then translate, and connect them to the core skills of digital culture. So, it is crucial for them to be able to facilitate that evolution: from wherever the citizen is to the core. Because digital culture has a core and Citilab as an institution, has a goal, and a direction towards this core and from this core. All citizens’ projects are great opportunities for people to learn about things that they never had thought they would need or never had heard about, things that are at the core of technological, digital thinking. These projects are also a great opportunity for us to learn what people are interested in. This implies that we have to learn to listen and to complement their initial idea with connections to ongoing projects, to core skills and to revise or devise a completely different set of activities to adapt to them. For other types of citizens, the techsavvy ones, the hackers, the situation is a bit different. It is more ´The goal to listen and accompany their projects or see the learning facilitators opportunity that they may bring to other citizens. The required skills that people end up learning include some that are not strictly technological but that stem from technological practice. For example, projects may require people to learn how to work with others online, which means managing reputation and contributions in a similar spirit as many Open Source projects.

of Citilab is to be able to understand the points of departure of the citizens, translate, and connect them to the core skills of digital culture.´

There are other dimensions to this learning processes. For example, all along the development of a project people discover that they are appreciated by their contributions and find out their own unsuspected potential. Of course, this is not what most people that approached Citilab in the first place expected to find.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

In fact, most people come to us thinking that we will teach them about internet, computers, etc. not about computational thinking, digital culture, design and collaboration too. So, we have to manage this expectation gap properly. That’s the reason why we still have to devise “entry points” to citilab ´The trick is for Citilab activities which look very much like classical “courses” ... and facilitators to know end up developing a project-based approach.

how to manage the expectation gap and to show people what other Citilabers are already doing in their own projects.´

The trick is for Citilab facilitators to know how to manage the expectation gap and to show people what other Citilabers are already doing in their own projects. This helps in communicating the main characteristics of the Citilab learning process to novices. However, this understanding and this process have taken a long time to develop and to communicate clearly. It is only after the first two years that we are really creating a working bridge between the classical training course approach and the learning that taks place in groups of self-directed peers around projects. For anyone coming from digital culture, all these processes of learning by doing, group collaboration, or project based learning are very natural ways of interacting, working and, in the process, learning. Unfortunately, this is not what it is happening in our schools at the moment. We could talk some other day about how we are approaching schools to work with technology and its concepts, methods, culture and ways of constructing knowledge. But, for the time being, the Citilab approach and the approach followed in schools are still different.

´We work with and for people. We have to learn to design new learning processes for creating innovators.´

Finally, don’t forget that Citilab is a Living Lab, i.e., a context for innovation. Our main outcome is not just new applications, or services (which we strive to co-create with users and companies) but mainly, new learning opportunities, activities and new innovators, i.e., Citilabers. That is, it is a living lab that innovates... about how to create innovators. We work with and for people. We have to learn to design new learning processes for creating innovators.


Apart from knowledge and skills in digital technology, what competences should citizens possess in order to become innovators of the knowledge society? I think that the main abilities that citizens should have are still not very much promoted in our culture. For example, the will to try new things out, the will to learn from failure, or to, simply put, to embrace failure and start from the lessons of failing in achieving your project. A second group has to do with the ability to not separate learning from doing and to integrate a reflective step in all actions. This is the basis for a design approach to developing new things: have an idea, create a question, and create an artifact (a program, hardware, a urban iniative, a collaborative platform, etc.) that will help you understand what was that you wanted to create and what you learned in the process. This reflective practice includes also some degree of other design thinking abilities. A third group of competences has to do with the ability to share knowledge and to cooperate with others in carrying on the projects that you think deserve a go. So, this also has to do with some type of organizative skills and organization forms of the digital culture. I would say that this boils down to be able to design, share, and organize yourself to work together... sometimes online. People tend to start from a very different point. Most people come here convinced that they cannot do much, that they barely could do anything more than learning the basic Internet skills, etc. That’s what the knowledge society means to them: Internet and that at the most basic level. Don’t forget that the geographical area where we are located has a strong industrial tradition in traditional sectors that didn’t involve a lot of technology and almost no digital technology. Most of our membership has just basic primary education. Those with a professional background in industry feel pressed to learn something about “the digital” but think they cannot do the connection between their past skills and present and future digital technologies and methods. In a way, by a strange


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

and unfortunate combination of culture, schooling, types of jobs and other factors, a great proportion of people come here convinced that they cannot learn much and, even less, contribute to the learning of others. One interesting thing of the local working class culture, on the positive side, is that there is a strong commitment to work, to work together, and to respond to calls to action. Citilab tries to exploit this context. It is very rewarding for them (and for us) to realize that in the process they can gain a clear space as builders of the knowledge society. They all have knowledge to start with and they can learn to connect it with digital design processes. Can you describe a roadmap on how citizens will go through this transition over the coming years, and how employees of Citilab should facilitate this process? As you know, it is easy to make predictions about he past but predictions about the future are extremely difficult. No one in the early 90s could foresee the impact of mobile phones, or the raise of peer production modes that have changed sectors (and jobs) like music production completely. Forecasting is a risky business. That said, in the near future there will be a change in the current needs and interests of citizens as innovation is concerned. The same goes for their need to learn new “digital things”. There is lot of talking about what will happen with current “Digital Natives” when they grow and become full citizens both in the spheres of work and politics. Their needs will not be the same as current generations since they will have been inmersed in “all things digital”.


One surprising thing, however, is that this inmersion is done under the pressure of consumerism most of the time. There is a relationship with technology that is mainly an experience of usage and, to a lesser degree, of building content and in an even lesser degree in building things digitally (mostly context, not so much code or hardware). This may change in the future, but still there is an imbalance towards usage instead of construction and fully conscious collaboration and learning. One of the things that not currently is addressed is just what we are trying to do here, which is to divert attention from the superficial and ever changing aspects of digital technology and of typical process of innovation and focus on the core skills of digital culture and its peculiar ways of building knowlege. Don’t forget that we devised our approach after several years of research of what was different in the knowledge society because of precisely the widespread irruption of computation, information and its concepts and methods, not just their market success.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

At a very abstract but deep level, computation and information give you a look on the world that is very different from the one given by the scientific tradition that sparked the Industrial Revolution, not to mention from the experience of technology as a consumer. This is somewhat in ´In our analysis, the line with Herbert Simon´s idea of a ´Science of the Artificial´, principal contribution based on the design stance. of the computational

revolution is the idea of process on one hand and on the other in the way that new knowledge is created´.

In our analysis, the principal contribution of the computational revolution is the idea of process on one hand and on the other in the way that new knowledge is created. This new

knowledge is mainly tested and later theorized by construction. It is close to traditional engineering but with the difference that the (informational, computational) artifacts that you learn to build are much more autonomous and complex than in previous times. Think just what it is involved in creating robots, sensor systems, sensor networks or social networks. It requires a lot of knowledge about processes, about how to define them and how to design them. This is what the MIT tradition calls “procedural epistemology”. If you become familiar with this way of thinking and doing then it is easy for you to unify many aspects of reality, from synthetic biology to personal fabrication, peer production and new political ways of organizing. Internet adds up to this complexity and contributes in creating new ways of coordination and organizing so that networks of citizens can achieve a big impact in innovation. Don’t forget that Citilab is a design artifact (both digital and of bricks and mortar). This design artifact, Citilab, tries to test the hypothesis that innovation in the new society hinges critically in grasping


the concepts of computational and informational culture, that we call, for short, digital culture. So, you can see a convergence of different ways of thinking and doing that are mainly based on the idea of computational process, information and knowledge representation and the design of complex processes and networked structures. This is becoming mainstream now. It has spawned enormous forces of change in many spheres. In a way, we are already living in a postdigital world, a world informed by the digital way of designing and organizing complex processes based on information and knowledge. This is impacting many, many areas that will affect all of us. Take for example, Craig Venter’s words in presenting his research achievement in creating artificial bacteria “This is ´For me, the way to the first self-replicating species whose parent is a computer”. get citizens on the You cannot use more computational terms to describe this technological design feat! And you’d better understand the logic of how it was done track, is to help them and what it entails. You can find similar developments in other learn by actually areas: ecomomics, politics, environment, you name it. As a getting involved in this citizen, you cannot be content to be left aside. You have to be type of practice and knowledgeable about this if only to have an opportunity to have processes. Then they your say in the processes of change that are sweeping our can decide whether world. But, apart from the leaders of this change, most people to join or to resist are left out of the conceptual tools and practical methods to against the processes assess what is going on. For a democratic society I think this of change.´ cannot be tolerated. For me, the way to get citizens on the technological design track, is to help them learn by actually getting involved in this type of practice and processes. Then they can decide whether to join or to resist against the processes of change. So, to make things short, I see that we will have to keep working on our approach to get more and new types of people reach the core of the technological ways of designing and innovation. Basically, we will have to find more and more new “entry points” that connect with their needs, interests and pressing issues in years to come. “Entry points” are artfifacts (events, meetings, activities, courses, etc.) that are easy for citizens to relate to their needs and interests and to discover something else. “Entry points” are also skills of Citilab staff to be able to devise these tools


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

and to work with people. Employees of Citilab have to be alert and responsive to the joint evolution of society and technology. So, it is fundamental that they are proactive and familiar with an extensive set of tools to be able to understand what is important for citizens and how to relate that to the core skills of Citilab. All this includes a foreseeable change in the practice of design where you help people become designers instead of just designing for them. So, Citilab employees will have to first improve their designer toolset and then forget about being designers in the traditional sense and go for the last design techniques where designers become facilitators of design environments where users become designers. This is a burgeoning area of design research. In a way, what now is happening in design is very much in tune with Citilab, since it strives to become an ecosystem of innovation and digital design. So, Citilab has to pursue a research programme on its own about all these new design areas.

´We have to understand people, we have to identify those who can act as tractors of fellow citizens in learning, building, innovation, propagating change...´

How can methods from the field of user centered design contribute in this roadmap in your opinion?

On one hand they will contribute a lot. On another, these methods are just a starting point. All the previous answers can be translated into a single sentence: “understand people” or, if you prefer, “understand your users”. I prefer to say, instead of users, “fellow citizens”, but let’s stick to the current jargon. So, Citilab staff have to resort to a wide arrangement of tools to reach out and understand what people really want, know and do. This, requires going deeper than the surface level, i.e., to resort to techniques that unearth rich information and multiple perspectives about what the users really are asking us for. This serves for all aspects of Citilab, from training to learning, from communication to content creation, from event planning to exhibition design. We have to understand people, we have to identify those who can act as tractors of fellow citizens in learning, building, innovation, propagating change...

All these needs of Citilab can benefit from many different well-proven methods currently used in the discipline of design, specially the area that has come to be known as “human-centered design”.


But, as I said, these methods are only a first stepping stone in a longer path, where we have to start using human-centered techniques, to devise activities, courses, workshops, events, exhibitions, ideas for projects methods, all the different formats that we are simultaneously using at Citilab, and move on to designing environments to let users become designers, digital designers that is. What other methods would you consider to stimulate citizens to initiate new projects by themselves in the future? I am following closely all methods that stem from human-centered design and overlap with open design, peer to peer open design and “design for complexity”. There is also a wealth of insights coming in from other disciplines not exactly classified nowadays as design such as organization innovation. In this overlapping area you can find very useful methods to facilitate the emergence of patterns of behaviour, of design behaviour that is. Our collaboration with Columbia University in research of new ways of organizing is very promising in that sense. Also I want to start collaborations in design research with several other senior fellows at Ontario College of Art and Design in seeing how strategic design and participatory design can give us new methods, methods that can be tested, and fine tuned in Citilab, and become part of the regular “Citilab toolbox” in the future. Also all the strands of research connection with “design for transformation” or turning innovation into transformation are worth exploring. How do you see the role of Citilab facilitators in the next years? I see them as designers who devise participatory institutions where users become designers of their own future. I also see them as people much more connected to a wider design and innovation community, well aware of what is going on in the world of innovation, social transformation and its connection to design (digital


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

or not). They should also be communicators of the methods that they are able to create. In that direction I see a lot of interest in finding correlates in the virtual world of current (and future) nondigital design methods. Also to use some of the lessons of the digital world - as peer to peer, open source, and social media- to devise new environments for participatory digital design. As I said before, this is already happening in the area known as “peer to peer open design� which we have to follow very closely. The work of Massimo Menichinelli and his group is very relevant, I think. So is the work of several italian designers that look at the crossroads of innovation, the digital culture, citizenship and sustainability.

There is plenty of work (and fun) ahead!




Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

PROJECTS WITH AND BY CITIZENS All activities, events, trainings and design processes in Citilab are called projects. Projects focus on applying and constructing knowledge in the field of digital technology and are usually initiated and executed in a collaboration between members and staff members. Some projects are initiated by staff members who involve citizens in their project, others are initiated by citizens themselves and facilitated by staff members. An example of a project initiated by a member of Citilab is a senior who learns about digital technology and decides to make a blog about his life, or a group of children who construct and program their own robot. An example of a project initiated by professionals is Expolab: the development of an exhibition with a team of professionals who collaborate with citizens in various stages of the process.



Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

PROJECT PROCESS All Citilab projects are initiated by or based on the interest or a need of the citizen(s). By executing the project, citizens gain knowledge about digital technology, explore new purposes of usage, or initiate the development of new technology. In any Citilab project the citizen plays a central role. A project process typically consists of four phases, which are described in this paragraph. In each phase the specific role and contribution of the citizens is considered by the staff members. The phases can, but not necessarily have to be followed in the order as described. DEFINE First of all the objective and scope of the project are defined. Information or skills might be needed in order to reach the objective. In this phase an inventory of the required knowledge or skills is made, and a plan on how to obtain this. A planning of the further activities as well as the role and responsibilities of the collaborators is made to provide structure for the work during the rest of the process.


LEARN The project objective is a motivator for people to dive into a certain topic. It could be that the required information is available on the internet, but often the knowledge or skills can also be obtained by learning from and with other people. During the learning phase the steps towards the project goal are defined in more detail. CONSTRUCT Once the people on the project team have obtained a basic level of knowledge and skills, they can apply what they have learned to construct new knowledge or to develop a new application. While working on the project it might happen that more learning is required. The learning and constructing phase usually go hand in hand. REFLECT Regular reflection is needed throughout all phases in the process, but especially towards the end of a project reflection is needed to assess what has been achieved or what can be improved. Often new questions arise, which can be the start of a new project.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

CASE: EDUCATIONAL WORKSHOPS 4 KIDS A CASE PROJECT: WORK IN PROGRESS The Citilab education team was assigned to develop 1.5 hour workshops for groups of primary schoolchildren, to complement their education in class. They decided to develop the workshops in a collaboration between teachers, children and colleagues from Citilab with expertise in education, design, programming and audiovisual tools. This chapter describes the project for as far as it has been executed at the moment of writing. The figure on page 27 shows the phases define, learn, construct and reflect, and de desired result of each phase. It also shows the desired interaction with both teachers and children throughout the process, The Citilab team applied a number of techniques from the usuaris @ctius course throughout the project. The following pages describe the activities and result per phase. More details about the techniques that were used can be found in section three (page 45 and onwards.



Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

workshops for schoolclasses design facilitated by Citilab staff

DEFINE The Citilab team defined the objective of the project: to develop workshops for school classes in Citilab, to complement the curriculum. The developers realized they needed to know more about the education in primary schools, so they decided to involve teachers and children in the process. The result was a planning of research and design sessions with teachers and children. LEARN An online enquiry with teachers provided first insight in the activities and issues in primary schools. To gather more in depth information, the citilab team invited teachers to make a mindmap and tell detailed stories about their practice. After the session the Citilab team made an affinity diagram to cluster the rich data into interesting themes. The result was a selection of themes that served as a basis for the development of workshops.




LEARN workshops for schoolclasses




suitable content

mindmap affinity diag.


CONSTRUCT The education team organized a brainstorm session with experts in audiovisual tools, scratch and low tech education to generate ideas on how these tools could serve to convey the content that was provided by the teachers, in an attractive way. The team designed six proposals for workshops, and reflected these with the teachers by means of storyboards in a focus group session. Based on the comments of the teachers, they wrote manuals and prepared prototypes for another feedback round. REFLECT At the moment of writing six different workshops with Scratch, Arduino, audiovisual tools and pencil and paper games were under construction. The demos will be reflected again in one or more focus group sessions with teachers, and the children will be invited to participate in pilot workshops. This will result in a final iteration step before the workshops can be launched after the summer holidays of the schools in September 2010.

demo workshop

able tent





storyboards focusgroup

6 workshops + new ideas



pilot focusgroup

Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

PRELIMINARY RESULTS At the point of writing the project had not been finished yet, but the education team already learned some interesting things from the interaction with teachers. Initially the Citilab team assumed that the workshops would have to be content oriented in order to be helpful for the teachers. During the sessions it became clear that the teachers were especially interested in the refreshing approach and the way of constructing knowledge in Citilab. This led to the idea to develop a methodology or a format for learning by doing, rather than ready-made workshops on specific topics. The teachers were interested to participate in the development of a programme that includes education in school and workshops in Ciitlab. The added value of this closer collaboration is that the children get more out of a workshop. Moreover, the teachers´expertise on conveying content, and the Citilab expertise of learning in new ways with digital technology can amplify each other.



Citilab little handbook on people-centered design


DIY: PROJECTS WITH CITIZENS The previous section gave an introduction into Citilab and its view on people-driven innovation, as well as an example of how citizens are involved in projects and activities. For Citilab staff it is important to be able to listen to the needs and wishes of Citilab members and to stimulate their creativity. This section provides a starting point for people in Citilab who want to collaborate with citizens. A checklist and guidelines help to consider the possibilities for user involvement, to select adecuate techniques and to make a planning of the project process. It is important to remember that collaborating with people in a real life environment is different from laboratory research. The steps can be planned in advance but you will see that they will constantly have to be adapted to the constraints in situ; so be creative and let the results of your efforts surprise you!


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

ACTION LIST This checklist can be used before starting a project with citizens. The questions help to consider the most important issues regarding the collaboration with people.

DEFINE THE PROJECT GOALS What do you want to achieve/investigate/learn/explore? What are the requirements for the end result of the project? Can you split up the project in phases? What are the desired outcomes of the phases?

GET TO KNOW THE CITIZENS What do you know about the needs and interests of the citizens? What do they get out of the collaboration in the project? What do you know about their daily context? What information is missing?


DEFINE THE ROLE OF THE CITIZENS What is the motivation to involve people? (Motivation for people to get involved in your project could for example be curiosity, social contact, societal relevance, idealism or a reward) What is the expected outcome of the contribution of the citizens? How many people are needed? What are their roles?

PLAN THE PROCESS How would you split up the project into phases? (see page 16,17) What you are the activities in each of the project phases? Which people will be involved in each phase of the project? Specify: what is the motivation for participation? When are the deadines for the activities in the project phases?.

SELECT TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES How do you want to collaborate with people? (one session vs long term collaboration) What outcome do you expect? (empathy, inspiration, co creation) How do you see your role as facilitator? To what extent is the result going to impact the project? How much time and resources do you have?


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

SEND INVITATIONS How many people are required for your method? Which people should be involved? - What profiles are you looking for? - Who might be willing to collaborate? - What is their required expertise? Where are you going to find these people? Are you going to invite them via mail, friends, social networks?

PREPARE ACTIVITIES Do your research on the selected methods: can you find more information on how to conduct the session? What do you need in terms of tools, materials, technical support? What will you explain and what questions are you going to ask? Where are you going to do the session? Is there a possibility to practice the session in advance?


GET PEOPLE IN ACTION How to stimulate and facilitate the participants? How do you make the participants at ease during the session? How are you going to document the session? Audio or video recordings, photos, notes?

ANALYZE RESULTS Process the results immediately: search through the data, what surprised you, what strikes you, what patterns do you see? What can you conclude, what can you use for your project? Reflect on the outcome: what can be improved next time? What do you know about their daily context? What information is missing after the session? Have new questions come up? How are you going to learn more?

DOCUMENT AND COMMUNICATE Document the data: how are you going to communicate results? How are you going to update the citizens about the results?


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS FOR WORKING WITH CITIZENS During the usuaris @ctius classes the Citilab staff members have been able to exchange their experiences in working with people. This paragraph lists a number of recommendations for collaboration with citizens that came up during the classes, divided in short term activities such as workshops or user research sessions and long term projects such as courses.

FOR SHORT WORKSHOPS AND ACTIVITIES It is important to consider the privacy of the people you work with. Agree to what extent you can use photos, quotes, ideas and other results from the session. People usually participate voluntarily, so make the users sessions pleasant and valuable and fun for them. Think of what you can offer participants in terms of compensation, a reward, mentioning their name, or just a good atmosphere.


FOR LONGER PROJECTS AND TRAININGS Since the citizens conduct their project voluntarily, it is crucial that you understand and address their motivation for participation. Sometimes people start a project out of curiosity for digital technology, others because they want to contribute to society, and others because they are interested in the social contact of the project group. Find out what they really want. Many adults who learn about digital technology need time in getting comfortable with a computer. Take small steps, repeat new knowledge and work with mini excercises. People should not only learn how current digital technology works, but also learn about new technology by finding it out themselves or with peers. In this fast changing era an important skill is to be able to learn independently without someone that tells you step by step what to do. After a period of guided education people should be able to keep on learning independently. If people work on a theme they like they are generally more eager to learn new tools and skills in order to reach their personal objectives. A good project goal functions as a motivator to get in touch with more new technology. Between people there are different levels of creativity. Creativity can be learned to a great extent, but not everybody can or wants to be the producer of the next innovation. It is important to understand the ambitions of people and take this into account when defining the project goals with them.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

DRAW YOUR PROCESS Once you have answered the questions from the checklist it is recommended to capture your decisions in a scheme. An example is given on page 29. The users are drawn at the centre of the project. The phases of the process are written in a circle that represents the whole project. After each phase there is an intermediate result, for example the intermediate result of the define phase is a definition of the project, including research questions and a plan for user involvement. The possible user sessions can be indicated in this picture as well. You can use the example on the next page to make a visualization of your project but you can also create your own. It is best to use a large sheet, so you have plenty space to put in all your thoughts and decisions. This is how it works: first divide your project into phases, such as define, learn, construct and reflect. Write down the desired outcome of each phase. Then define the activities within each phase that lead to the desired outcome. Then indicate in which


points of the process you could benefit from collaborating with citizens. Specify their expertise and role in the development, and the desired outcomes of the collaboration. Then choose adecuate tools or techniques for the collaboration, using the examples from this handbook or define your own way of working. Once you have this picture you can make a detailed planning and set dates for the meetings with citizens. Communicate your planning to all team members and keep everybody updated during the project.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design


SELECTED TOOLS & TECHNIQUES This section provides a selection of the most useful tools and techniques for user involvement that were discussed during the usuaris @ctius project. The methods have been derived from the IDEO method card set and other online resources for user centered design techniques. See the references on page 88 for more information. The examples in this section form the beginning of a collection that will grow and improve as people in Citilab gain practical experience in their projects. The methods can be used in combination with each other, and with methods and procedures that are already used in Citilab. All techniques can be adapted and modified to suit the situation in practice.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

There is more detailed information available online for most of the methods; the two page overview should be seen as a starting point for further exploration. The references on page 88 give links to a number of useful resources.

HOW TO USE THIS SECTION Each technique is summarized in two pages. The first page gives insight in why, when and with whom the technique can be useful, The small icons in the margin indicate the purpose, number of participants and required time for the technique. See page 47 for an explanation of the icons. The second page gives an example of how the technique can be implemented in the context of Citilab.


TECHNIQUES FOR EMPATHY Empathy is the ability to understand and share others people´s feelings. The empathy techniques help to get understanding of their motivations, rituals and desires of a few people. These techniques are considered important for all employees who are in contact with citizens in Citilab.

TECHNIQUES FOR INSPIRATION The techniques for inspiration involve procedures for generating insight and initial ideas from and with people. The techniques can be used both by the staff and members of Citilab to come up with solutions together, especially in the beginning of a project.

TECHNIQUES FOR CO-CREATION Citizens can participate in the development of innovation in a role as ´ínformant on their experience´ but also as creators of new ideas and solutions. The co-creation techniques help to develop solutions during group activities. The techniques can be used both by the staff and members of Citilab to generate and elaborate solutions together.

NO. OF PARTICIPANTS This icon indicates the optimum number of participants for the XX

technique. Often a trade off between generating a lot of superficial data from many people, and getting in depth with only a small number of people. All methods in this handbook are qualitative.

TIMING The clock gives an idea of the time needed to prepare, execute and analyze a technique: a couple of afternoons (quarter full), several days (half full) or several weeks (full)


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

Ensure that people are reminded to do their activities on a regular basis, otherwise they might forget to document after a while.

CAMERA JOURNAL What: Ask citizens to keep a written and visual documentation of their impressions, circumstances and activities related to a certain topic. Why: The technique is non-intrusive, because the participants document when the researcher is not present all the time. The technique allows to reveal and discuss patterns after the 3-10

documentation period. Get started: Provide citizens with a note block and a (video) camera and ask them to document their experiences related to a topic during a couple of days or throughout a series of events. The results can be analysed by the research team but also together with the participants. The analysis can be the basis for a new project proposal.



eir take pictures of th Participants can or e, ment at hom daily self-employ in t id employmen those who do pa to es s, tools, plac an office (space ld ou w kers, etc). It “escape”, co wor k” ac ement as a “tr make a joint stat be n kout, and ca brief in the Brea ’s each participant used to identify re pa m es, or even co needs and routin e al narrative of th them with a visu Breakout

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EDUCATION a visual diary Participants can make learn or teach, of what they want to eds but also in order to identify ne rganization or allow for some self-o and demands generation of offers o want to be between Citilabers wh en as a good more active. It is se can be called ingredient for what “collective learning”



personal blog Citilab could develop a turns green (in where the user itself sense of the d ba the good and the are good or t tha word) and images bility. The ina sta su bad in terms of lf-blame” and user can indicate “se In the end it “self-congratulations´. n solutions in should help to desig d in areas of the city to move ahea recycling, etc. consumption, mobility,


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

COLLAGE MAKING What: In a group session people make a collage about their experience related to a certain topic. When the participants explain the images in their collages they reveal rich information about their daily live experiences. Why: Images are an entry to reveal latent knowledge on a 4-8

motivational and emotional level. Once people are allowed to express something about their life in a non-verbal way, they are better able to tell about their experiences, desires and dreams. The results can be used by a design team to get empathy or inspiration. Get started: Give the participants a small preparation exercise (see ´sensitizing tools´). During the session: provide a set of prepared images and ask the participants to make a collage about how they experience a certain topic. Then, discuss the collages in the group, so that people can react on each others experience. Optionally a second collage can be made with a focus on their vision on the future. Afterwards, analyze the stories of the people and cluster them into themes or insights and communicate them to a design team.


Example: In the Expolab project, groups of people explained how the evolution of internet had changed their daily lives. Their stories were transscribed on pieces of paper and added to the collages for the analysis of the material.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

CONNECTION MAPPING What: This is an exercise that results in a preliminary map, showing the relations between concepts, persons or projects (or services, or products, it can be anything).. Why: The technique can be used to visualize the relationships between users and their positioning or self definition in a 4-8

collaborative exploration. The most interesting results can be obtained if a mixed group of people participate in a session. Get started: Work in small groups on separate tables. Begin with a blank panel or flip over sheet, and use words and connections with arrows to collaboratelively draw a map of a concept or a project.


Example: This method has been used in an Urban Labs workshop iin collaboraton between Citilab and Platoniq. See also


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

ONLINE ENQUIRY What: A set of targeted questions sent by email to a large group of people with a specific profile. Why: Online enquiry tools, such as Google Docs forms, can be used to quickly generate answers from a large number of people. It gives a first impression on the perspective of the target group on a certain topic in the beginning of a project. In the end phase of a > 20

project enquiry tools can be used for reflection on the results. Get started: Prepare the questions in a questionnaire format, considering the required amount of respondents, the desired feedback and the amount of time. There are free online tools available that makes the answers appear in a spreadsheet automatically. Citilab has people who are specialized in this type of research technique.


Example: Asking profile information and feedback from participants of a Breakout session.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

SENSITIZING TOOLS What: A sensitizing tool can be a booklet or a cultural probe with short exercises and open questions around the topic you want users to start thinking about. People receive this probe and during a couple of weeks they do the excercises as a preparation for a generative session (this is a session in which people express their experience or ideas through the creation of artefacts). 6 - 12

Why: By sensitizing people first, they will be better able to access their latent knowledge in a generative session. In addition, it gives the researcher insight in the lives of people at a moment when the researcher is not actually present with them. Get started: Prepare a a booklet or a little box with postcards, images, open questions, stickers etc. The excersises should be playful, open and short. It should typically take 5 or 10 minutes a day to complete. Examples are available at:


Try to keep questions as open as possible and try not to reveal too much about the session in advance

Example: In the Expolab project the participants of a collage session filled out a cultural probe with questions about the role of technology in their daily activities. See also


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

STEP INTO MY SHOES What: Developers or teachers can do role playing games in order to get empathy for their users. Playing the role of the other user helps to see issues from a new perspective. Why: Putting yourself in the shoes of the user helps to identify problems and to really imagine a future situation. It is a useful 2-6

excercise to come to a mutual understanding. Get started: Take on the role of end user during an improvised scenario play. Pick an exemplary situation and try to act out different scenarios. After the scenarios have been played out, the participants discuss their ´learnings´ and draw conclusions for the design.


? Example: In the Hort Digital team the teachers use this method. They switch roles with the participants in their class as one of the activities during the course.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design


What: A semi-structured interview is a flexible interview in which researchers allow new questions to be brought up during the interview as a result of what the user says. Why: This method helps to focus an interview on the topics at hand without being constrained to a particular format. This freedom 6 - 12

can help the researcher to adapt the questions to the interview context/situation, and to the people they are interviewing. Get started: Prepare a short list of themes that you are interested in. Take time for the interviews, for example two or three hours. Preferably visit people in their environment because then you get the best insight in their context. During a conversation with the participant, address the themes on the list but also leave space for unexpected topics. Create trust first, before starting to talk about more sensitive topics. Gather as many material as possible, exploring what type of media works best for you.


Pick smart documentation tools


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

AFFINITY DIAGRAM What: Organizing ideas or expressions to find the correlations and identify valuable categories. Why: The technique can be used to make sense of rich data, by organizing expressions into clusters of themes, or to define idea directions. An affinity diagram can be made as a follow-up of a 2-6

generative session. Get started: First, make a pile of sticky notes or printed cards with expressions, needs, ideas or insights that have been generated by a group of people. Then, place a card from the pile on a blank sheet and take a next card. Each following card is placed close to another card with similar significance. Placing and replacing the cards will result in a verbal and visual representation of emerging categories. The activity is closed by defining a keyword, a phrase or a representative drawing of each category.


It is recommended to take time for the analysis; do several sessions over a couple of days in which the cards are reviewed and reshuffled into useful clusters that are understood by all team members.

Example: A Citilab team invited teachers to tell stories about of their work with children. Their examples were summarized on sticky notes and categorized in themes of interesting topics for Citilab workshops.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

EMPATHY TOOLS What: Try to put yourself in the position of a person with specific needs, using low cost tools. Why: To get an empathic understanding for users with disabilities or special conditions. This method allows to find out not just what people are saying and doing, but also what they are thinking and 2-6

feeling by yourself. People don’t always do, think or feel what they tell you and then it is useful to apply empathy tools, to see the design challenge from the point of view from the end user. Get started: Use for example clouded spectacles and weighted gloves to actually experience processes as though you yourself have the needs of different users. The experience gives insight in the requirements for designing applications, products or services.


, an Example: This method can serve for the development of InvinTV The activitiy for people with disabilities, based on the Inventa TV format. it is like team can try the use of very heavy sunglasses to experience what ment to be blind. It is a first exercise that should not be seen as a replace for working with end users.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

FUTURE HEADLINES What: Future headlines are fictional articles published on journals, simulated by designers. They try to imagine what kind of impact their design will have on the society. Why: This technique can be used to quickly generate answers from a large number of people. It gives a first impression on the 2-8

perspective of the target group on a certain topic. Get started: Do this exercise as a group activity for designers, citizens and/or developers as part of a co design session. The future headlines can be on posters made by hand or elaborated with a graphic design programme for example.


BREAK OUT see It would be a good exercise to they re whe what users are doing and are within a year. The Breakout team could make a tag cloud about their ers motivations for example. It trigg get to ct the coordinators of a proje they are t to know the users: wha t to interested in, what do they wan know?

Do this excercise in the initial phases of the process, when it can have the most impact.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

PERSONAS What: A visual representation of a fictional user, showing his/ her characteristics, needs, goals and desires. The character is composed of data from user research. Why: Personas provoke empathy, inspiration and new questions. A ´realistic´ representation helps designers to become interested >2

in the end user, and to make design decisions from the users´ point of view. A good idea of one or two users can be more inspiring than a set of data on the average characteristics of a target group. Making personas helps design teams to come to a shared understanding of the person. Get started: Create a one or two page collage with images and text, showing a photo and some (fictitious but realistic) personal details, and descriptions of his or her attitude, behaviour, environment, routines and skills. Images and quotes from user research sessions make the character more ´real´. A persona can be digital as well as analog.


Example: These cards contain descriptions of different characters within the target group. It consists of photos from their daily environment and short quotes from interviews with them.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

VIDEO OBSERVATION What: Redesign by offering a mirror, using audiovisual tools. Why: The technique can be used to redefine appreciations of users, to redesign with users or to reflect on initial ideas. It helps to reveal personal patterns that people are not usually aware of. 3 - 12

Get started: First film a person, and then watch the visual material together. By showing the visual material and the actions, new questions and answers will be provoked. The discussion can be the starting point for a redesign session with citizens. .


BREAK OUT ion a Breakout sess In the scope of es le to make pictur we can ask peop ut ork. The Breako of their daily w e th re the fotos with team can compa w r to design a ne Breakout in orde at f-developed) form setup. A new (hal e d the next time th can be offered an done again. same thing can be


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

ke If you do this in a large group, ma y sure you keep all people activel participating in the process

BRAINSTORM WALL What: A group process for gathering needs, wishes and insights. People express their thoughts and react on thoughts of other people. Why: This is a way to do a first exploration of needs, ideas or design solutions. First people are able to express their individual 3 - 12

thoughts. Then, the collection grows as they start reacting on each other, in a face to face conversation or by writing their responses directly on the wall. Get started: State a central ´problem´. Write a few keywords that represent the problem on a wall, with enough space between the words. The participants write down their ideas, thoughts and/or needs related to this problem on sticky notes, or directly on the wall. Then, ask participants to react on the post its on the wall, and also to have conversations with each other and summarize this on new post its. When people are done talking about the topic on that part of the wall they move on to see if they can contribute to another topic.


Example: In an usuaris @ctius class the needs for collaboration with citizens were collected.

Example: The Citilab education team organized a workshop with teachers to gather examples and issues related to the primary school curriculum.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

INFOGRAPHIC What: A one-page representation about a persona, or a concept, in images and words that allows people to get involved quickly. Why: It is a way to get involved people who don´t have time to read a big document. It also helps to raise curiosity and provoke >2

questions. Visuals help to attract people´s interests. Words will provide the explicit information. Get started: An infographic can be digital as well as analog. The image should give the user the topic and the key learnings easily. Use a combination of words and images. Make sure the infographic is either self-explanatory, or use the infographic to trigger people to read more information that is linked to it.


Example: An online booklet explaining the process of a collage session for Expolab.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

LOW TECH PROTOTYPING What: People collaborate in groups, making 3D representations of their ideas. The objects are the basis for a discussion in which ideas are detailed and new ideas are being generated. Why: Constructing objects manually stimulates the more creative part of the brain. The technique helps to explain ideas that are 6 - 25

hard to explain in words. Moreover, it forces the participants to be more specific about their ideas. Get started: Prepare a variety of scrap material like paper, felt, Lego, cardboard, pencils etc. Start with a short brainstorm in which the participants express ideas around a design topic. Then let them represent one idea by means of a 3D object. People can work alone to focus on their own experience, or work in a group to elicit a more dynamic discussion. Allow at least two hours for the creation part.


Example: In the Expolab project groups of people created 3D objects to show how the evolution of internet had changed their daily lives. While creating the objects the participants were triggered discuss and question their thoughts. See also


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

OPEN DESIGN CONTEST What: Collaborative open source design project in the virtual environment of Second Life with designers from all over the world Why: By making the design process open source, designers can stimulate each other and build on each others ideas to enhance >6

the outcome. Get started: Organize an open design competition for designers from all over the world. The designs are created under a creative commons license, and the winning designs can be built in a physical space. The designs are not submitted the last moment, but the open construction process is part of the competition. This allows the organizers to guide the design process, and it is an opportunity for the designers who would normally not meet to help each other to make the designs better.


Example: in the Expolab project Citilab worked together with the Tech Museum California, who provided a virtual space for a design contest in Second Life. The Expolab team had weekly feedback sessions with the participants in the contest, to discuss how the exhibition proposals could be improved.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

PEER 2 PEER LEARNING What: Create a network of seniors who work as volunteers in explaining technology. This method is based on the principle of peer to peer learning. Why: Peers can teach each other in adequate ways because they speak the same language. In addition it is good for the volunteers 6 - 25

that they can help others with the knowledge they have acquired. Through spreading the knowledge the digital divide within the group of seniors can be diminished. Get started: First, seniors learn about digital technology in the regular Seniorlab group in Citilab. Then they are stimulated to take on the role of volunteers and teach others what they have learned. They facilitate the education of other seniors in their network who would otherwise not get in touch with digital technology.



Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

STORYBOARDS What: A storyboard is a visual representation of a future situation through a series of drawings or pictures, put together in a narrative structure. Why: Making a storyboard helps developers to imagine future usage from the point of view of the user and it forces them to 1-4

make design decisions. A storyboard can be used as an empathy tool, as a design tool, to convince a client about an idea, or to document a common vision within a team. Get started: A storyboard is based on a future scenario, usually from the point of view of one single user. The beginning of the story can start with an introduction of the user and possibly its ´problem´. The story explains the benefits of the new application for the user. The narratives can be represented by drawings, photos, a schedule, an animation or a video.


Example: these storyboards have been used to explain, discuss and improve workshop proposals with teachers. The look and feel of the storyboard highly influences the reactions of users. Think carefully what should be achieved with the storyboard. Elicit reactions, explain an idea, convince people, invite people to come up with more ideas?


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

WORD-IMAGE ASSOCIATIONS What: This exercise results in a visual map of words and drawings around a central concept or theme. It can be done as an individual or group activity to collect information that is in people´s minds, or to generate, structure and classify ideas. 6 - 12

Why: Reacting on words and images helps to sort out a complicated concept into elements, individually or in collaboration. The images help to reveal memories, associations and connections that are not revealed with words only. The exercise stimulates the brain to get a flow of connections and associations going. Get started: Draw a ´nucleus´ with a central concept or idea in the middle of a blank sheet. Then, use lines, words and drawings in order to build a system of connected thoughts around the starting point. A mindmap can be made from scratch during a session, or a start can be made in advance to help people get started.


Example: The word-image technique has been used in a session with teachers to make an inventory of things they teach in class and to indicate issues. The choice of words and images influences the response of the participants. During a session you can let the people work on the wall first, and start a discussion afterwards to discuss how they interpreted the words and images


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design





Affinity diagram


Diagrama de afinidad

Brainstorm wall


Pared de ideas

Camera journal


Diario visual

Citilab - approach


Aproximación Citilab

Collage making


Sesión de ´collages´

Connection mapping


Mantel de conexiones

Cultural probe


Sonda cultural

Empathy tools


Herramientas de empatía

Future headlines


Titulares para el futuro




Generative session


Sesión generativa

Low tech prototyping


Prototipo de baja tecnología

Online enquiry


Encuesta online

Open design contest


Concurso de diseño abierto

Peer 2 peer learning


Aprendizaje peer 2 peer







Project phases


Pasos de un proyecto

Semi-structured interview


Entrevistas semi-estructuradas

Sensitizing tools


Herramientas de sensibilización

Step into my shoes


Ponte en mi lugar




Video observation


Observación de vídeo

Word image associations 84


Asociaciones texto-imágenes

Citilab little handbook on people-centered design

REFERENCES Ten online resources that are worth checking out: Citilab: IDEO toolkit and card widget: Service design tools: Design games: Design & Emotion Society knowledge base: http://www. Studiolab TU Delft: Waag Society: Usuaris @ctius blog: Online DIY booklets: Peer 2 peer open design:


Recommended further reading: Jones, P. (2008). Socialization of practice in a process world: Toward participatory organizations. In Proceedings of Participatory Design Conference 2008, Indiana University, Oct 1-4 2008. Menichinelli, M. (2008). openp2pdesign.org_1.1. Accesible in: http://www.scribd. com/doc/6208079/openp2pdesignorg11 Menichinelli M., Reti collaborative. Il design per una auto-organizzazione Open Peer-to-Peer, Tesi di laurea, rel. Ezio Manzini, Politecnico di Milano, A.A. 2004/05 Schuler, D. & Namioka, A. (1993). Participatory design: Principles and practices. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Shirky,

C (2009) Here Comes Everybody: the power of organizing without

organizations. Penguin Press Ståhlbrös,Anna. Forming Future IT. The Living Lab Way of User Involvement. PhD. Thesis, December 2008 . Luleå University of Technology Social Informatics Von Hippel, E. (2006) Democratizing Innovation. The MIT Press 2006. Accesible here: Von Stamm, Trifilova, A. (Eds) (2009) The Future of Innovation. Gower.


Citilab little handbook on people-centered design


Citilab little handbook on people centered design  

design methods