Bring your customers into the building to collaboratively build their perfect product with the team.

👥 10 and more | ⏰ weeks | 💪🏼 high effort


Participatory design is a collaborative way to bring stakeholders and potential users into the design process, giving them a chance to share their ideas with the team through solution-building activities rather than verbal communication alone.

Using physical materials — pen, paper, tape, etc. — and active discussion, the team partners with real users, learns about their needs and wants, and identifies possible solutions to prototype and validate in future milestones. Participatory design results in not only rich understanding of the target user, but also in powerful artifacts and narratives to inspire the team in later stages.

Who is involved?

Participatory design requires a recruiter to source either target users or stakeholders that share an interest in influencing your product; a moderator to guide the participants through the design exercises; and the team to decide on research goals, plan the exercises, and document findings to identify possible directions for your solution.

How is it done?

  1. Frame the goals, objectives, and questions for the design exercise. What are you trying to achieve by letting them design their perfect experience? What should we ask participants to design?
  2. Recruit participants who are open to sharing their perspectives through creative exercises in-house.
  3. On the day of the sessions (participatory design should be one-on- one with recruits), invite each participant into a large room with enough space to be creative, and enough materials to fully express their ideas for your product. Sessions may last an hour or so.
  4. Afterwards, take the numerous photos, designs, and quotes from the sessions, lay them out for the team to analyze, and use them as sources of inspiration for the solution ideation phase.