UPCOMING: The Participatory Design Conference: UX/SD Highlights


The Participatory Design (PD) Conference in Sydney now has its preliminary programme up. While this is an academic research conference the nature of participatory design (designing with people) means the conference deals with very designerly and practice-based issues.

As a design conference, it’ll be of most value to people interested in incorporating participatory co-design and user innovation methods into their practice, projects and organisations, or building on existing user centred design approaches#.

The conference includes tutorials, workshops, panels, research presentations and industry cases and topics are as diverse as civic engagement, rural development, large scale IT systems, health, education and museums. Below are some highlights from the programme that might be of interest to the UX & Service Design community in particular.


First up are the Tutorials happening on the 29 and 30th of November: (See the Full Tutorials Details for more info)

A Participatory Design Introduction A great start point for those familiar with traditional user-centred design who want to move toward using more participatory design concepts and methods in their work. (Taught by the legendary Joan Greenbaum)

Participatory Design Charrettes which focuses on sharing group collaboration techniques for creative enterprise and involving people in the co-design of things.

Action Methods for Cross-Boundary Participation The emphasis in this tutorial is particularly on working across boundaries, whether disciplinary or cultural and includes strategies for turning interested bystanders into active participants.


There are also the following Workshops: (See the Full Workshop details for more info)

Prototyping (in) Healthcare

Participatory Design with Health and Social Care Institutions

Innovation in participatory design

Participatory Innovation in SMEs

N.B Usually in academic workshops you put in an application to participate (its about sharing people’s experiences and research), but if you are interested in participating in one of the workshops, ignore the deadline for submissions and contact them about participating and whether a submission is needed.

Industry Day

Then there’s December 2, Industry Day itself

First  up is the Industry Keynote: by Mariesa Nicholas, Director of Development, Inspire Foundation
I’m really looking forward to this as Mariesa will be sharing the real, nitty gritty on-the-ground challenges (and opportunities) of working in participatory ways with young people to design their own services – in the particularly complex environment of mental health.

Industry Cases: This includes presentations by local and international industry presenters from Digital Eskimo, Collabforge, Intel, IBM, MJV and Xerox covering topics such as strategies for civic engagement, sustainability, museum displays, designing service touchpoints, collaboration in large organisations, and mobile insurance (see presenters list). These will be parallel to exploratory research papers on emerging Participatory Design topics.

Service Design Panel: This panel, titled Participation Frameworks in Service Design and Delivery is a mixed industry/academic panel that will explore the existing and potential complementary relationship between Participatory Design and Service Design. The panel will be chaired by Jeanette Blomberg who leads the Service Innovation Research group at IBM.

The afternoon will include emerging international research taking place through industry/research collaborations and will cover sustained participation in design and implementation in IT, enhancing citizenship and participatory design of medical devices.

See the full program details here including details of the other 2 days of the conference

And register soon if you want to catch the Early bird discount – Ends Oct 8

*Industry Day is new the to the PDC conference and has been organised by Ellen Balka, Jeanette Blomberg & myself. The aim is to foster more collaboration between practitioners from industry and academia grappling with the challenges and opportunities of supporting participatory approaches to design (or codesign as it is becoming known).¬† We know it’s hard to get funding for a 3 day conference, so Industry Day offers a single day registration specifically designed for industry attendees with a programme that covers current and emerging practices, methods and recent case studies from industry and research.

#The politics of design and participation and people’s right to have influence over the design of things that will impact their lives are at the heart of PD. In this way it goes beyond traditional UCD.

We’ve been lucky to have some great sponsors too: Thanks Digital Eskimo & Zumio


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