This is the new reference handbook for Participatory Design. Participatory Design is about the direct involvement of people in the co-design of the information technologies they use. Its central concern is how collaborative design processes can be driven by the participation of the people who will be affected by the technology that is being designed.
Participatory Design embraces a diverse collection of principles, and practices aimed at making technologies, tools, environments, businesses, and social institutions more responsive to human needs. It brings together a multidisciplinary and international group of software developers, researchers, social scientists, managers, designers, practitioners, users, cultural workers, activists, and citizens who both advocate and adopt distinctively participatory approaches in the development of information and communication artefacts, systems, services, and technology.
It is our hope that this book will become the basis for Participatory Design courses at colleges and universities worldwide and that it will endure and remain a relevant reference for the next decade and beyond. The book’s target audience is researchers and practitioners who are already working within Participatory Design, are interested in doing so, or who wish to obtain an authoritative overview of the field and its history. We hope especially to inspire new researchers to join our research community. The book provides an introduction and a reference to core areas of Participatory Design including thorough literature reviews, discussions of central contributions and challenges for current and future research areas, as well as chapters demonstrating the practical large-scale application of Participatory Design.
The book has been written by a group of highly recognized, very experienced and profoundly engaged Participatory Design researchers and practitioners with first hand knowledge of the discourse that has shaped the field over the last decades. We have endeavoured to illustrate why Participatory Design is such a valuable approach to thinking about design. We demonstrate why Participatory Design is an important, relevant, and most rewarding area for research and practice.
Participatory Design has so much to offer to those living and working in environments where technologies are designed and used. Some of the most obvious examples include: clarifying design goals, formulating needs, designing coherent visions for change, combining business-oriented and socially sensitive approaches, initiating participation and partnerships with different stakeholders, using ethnographic analysis as part of the design process, establishing mutual learning processes among heterogeneous participants, conducting iterative experiments aiming at organizational change, managing stepwise implementation based on comprehensive evaluations, and providing a large toolbox of different practical techniques to encourage and enable participation. Most importantly, its defining commitment to ensuring active and genuine participation offers a principled design approach and practice to those seeking to harness the benefits of new technology for greater human good.
The Participatory Design community meets every second year at the biennial Participatory Design conferences. The idea for this book was fostered at the 10th Anniversary Conference on Participatory Design held in Bloomington, Indiana, USA in 2008. The theme of this conference, Experiences and Challenges, was chosen to celebrate that the Participatory Design community had been meeting for 20 years since the first conference held in 1990. At the conference, a need for a new handbook was voiced and discussed. Other very popular books have been published on Participatory Design, but the need for an updated book was obvious. The two books published by Lawrence Erlbaum (Design at Work: Cooperative Design of Computer Systems from 1991 edited by Greenbaum and Kyng; Participatory Design: Principles and Practices, from 1993, edited by Schuler and Namioka) have, to date, been the key handbooks available on Participatory Design and they are still widely cited.
We were the programme chairs for the 2008 conference and encouraged to initiate this book. We developed a proposal and invited 22 Participatory Design experts to join the project. All contributors met at a full day workshop held at the 11th Participatory Design Conference in Sydney, Australia in 2010. At this workshop, we reviewed and discussed a 140 page draft for the book. During 2011 there was one major review round for all chapters and an additional review round for selected chapters. All have received from six to ten extensive reviews by the authors and editors as well as one or two editorial meta-reviews analyzing and commenting on the collection of reviews. Drafts for each chapter and summaries of the chapters have been circulated between the contributors to ensure quality, consistency, and proper cross-references. We will celebrate the final publication of the book at the 12th Participatory Design conference in Roskilde, Denmark in August 2012. A workshop will be held at the 13th Participatory Design conference in 2014 where we will discuss our experiences in using the book in university courses at advanced bachelor, graduate or PhD levels.
As editors we have enjoyed immensely our numerous conversations, discussions, reflections, and exchanges of draft materials with the authors in this book. We hope that you will enjoy reading the book, share the insights it provides, and participate in the discussions that it raises.
Jesper Simonsen and Toni Robertson