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Title: Visualising human-centred design relationships : a toolkit for participation
Author: Broadley, Cara
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: Glasgow School of Art
Date of Award: 2013
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As human-centred philosophies continue to permeate the landscape of design practice, education, and research, a growing body of literature concerning creative methods corresponds with a democratic process that addresses the experiences, needs, problems, and aspirations of users and stakeholders. It can be argued, however, that making tools to gather and evaluate the insights of others contributes to fluctuating perceptions of the designer as a creative auteur, visual communicator, observer, facilitator, analyst, and problem-solver. In turn, human-centred design's overarching neglect of practitioner and researcher reflexivity has resulted in insufficient reasoning and reflection surrounding subjective methodological choices and the impact these have on the direction of the process and the designer's agency. In this practice-led research, I investigate how human-centred designers collect information and build relationships with participants by making, using, and interpreting visual and participatory tools and techniques. Examining approaches including personas, scenarios, and design probes, I assert that rather than being objective and neutral in seeking participants' input, human-centred designers are inherently reflexive, yet the practical benefits of this researcher trait remain broadly unrecognised and abstract within the discipline. Situating human-centred design in the context of environmental, community, and organisational placemaking, I undertake three case studies to examine localised sociocultural issues. In these, I draw from my position as an illustrator, designer, researcher, PhD student, and participant in the process to provide intimate, immersed, and critical narrative accounts of human-centred design in its initial exploratory stages. Simultaneously, I develop, test, and critique my participatory-reflexive methodology. Conceptualised as an arrangement of people and artefacts interacting through various creative phases and activities, this structures the process as stages of orientation, participation, evaluation-in-action, tool response analysis, and reflexive analysis. I assess how the content, format, and tone of my methodological tools and techniques helped me to gather participants' drawn, written, and verbal insights, generate ideas, and make decisions whilst instigating understanding, empathy, rapport, consensus, and dialogue. These findings reinforce the designer's multifaceted reflexive role as an ethnographic explorer and storyteller, visual maker, strategic and empathic facilitator, and intuitive interpreter. Flexible and inclusive enough to navigate designers' and participants' intersubjective insights, I present the five-stage participatory-reflexive methodology as my original contribution to knowledge. I propose that this transferable framework will support designers as they engage with settings to elicit information from user and stakeholder participants, develop their own experiential and critical perspectives, and utilise their intuitive and expressive expertise to establish, manage, and sustain productive human-centred design relationships.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available