smallfire: design strategy, research & methods to support participation

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Integrating User Experience and Evidence-based approaches to Design

Both Australia and NZ suffer from distressingly high youth suicide rates. Much of the work and research being undertaken to address this centres around the potential of online technologies to connect with young people in new ways, and to enable the delivery of new kinds of health and wellbeing interventions and services. Online services create the potential for self-directed and anonymous engagement and move the conversation to “where young people already are”. They also require quite a different design approach to interventions delivered within a traditional clinical setting.

Co-designing these services in collaboration with the young people they are designed to benefit provides the opportunity to learn more about how young people experience these issues, and ensures that what is designed has relevance in the world of young people. The presentation above, delivered for UXNZ in November last year, describes our journey to bring together user experience design and participatory approaches with the evidence-based models which traditionally underpin health promotion, intervention and treatment.  The presentation was developed in collaboration with @MariesaNicholas and @KittyRahilly and it shares insights and learning from work with the Inspire Foundation and the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre in Australia. The goal of these organisations is to develop effective evidence-based online, youth mental health and well being interventions in collaboration with the young people they are designed to benefit.

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Becoming Design-Led: Exploring the role of (co)design in libraries

Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to gain insight into the exciting challenges and changes being navigated by libraries through a close relationship with UTS Library, and co-design projects with AUT and Hurstville Libraries. These three organisations, like others around the world, are doing fantastic work exploring and responding to the changing face and role of libraries by working collaboratively with their staff, stakeholders and communities to co-design the library of the future. Continue reading…

User Experience and Participatory Design in Libraries

Library staff exploring different kinds of user centred design research techniques AUT Library of the Future Co-design workshops in 2012

AUT Library of the Future Co-design workshops in 2012: Library staff exploring different kinds of user centred design research techniques

[Edited October 25 to provide some context for the post]
Last week I had the pleasure of presenting at the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa national conference in Hamilton. The presentation described the principles behind a design-led organisation, different ways in which you could apply design approaches to shape your organisation and its services, and how libraries in particular are taking up these tools and strategies. At the end of the presentation an audience member asked for examples or case studies of libraries using different design methods and approaches (assuming the word design encompasses what others might call a user experience or customer experience perspective).

In response I’ve assembled the below (non-exhaustive) list of case studies and examples, gathered over the last few years whilst working with libraries. Examples cover libraries looking to improve current user experience of search interfaces through to co-designing the future of their library with their community.  Please send me other links/examples to add. At this stage the examples are presented in no particular orde

Darian Library
Online Articles:
Libraries: A Canvas for Creating Meaningful User Experience, Amanda L. Goodman, UX Magazine May 2013

Swinburne Libray
McKay, D., & Conyers, B. (2010). Where the streets have no name: how library users get lost in the stacks. Originally published in Proceedings of the 11th Annual ACM SIGCHI NZ Conference on Computer-Human Interaction (CHINZ 2010), Auckland, New Zealand, 08–09 July 2010 (pp. 77–80). New York: ACM.Available from:

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