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7 ways to do research and design activities with the people you support or any other stakeholder. Includes resources for user research, ideation, co-design workshops and other activities.

This resource is for digital leads and service managers who are responsible for involving stakeholders in designing and improving digital services. Stakeholders could be the people you support, colleagues, partners or even trustees.

It offers help with 7 possible challenges or situations you might encounter. You might be exploring a new service and need to learn about people’s needs. Or perhaps you’re wondering how to generate ideas with them. You could even be planning a full co-design session.

For each challenge we offer 1 or more resources chosen from the recent Catalyst archive. Wherever your service is at, there will be something here to help you involve people more deeply in its design and improvement. 

1. When you need to understand people’s wants, needs and digital behaviours

Understanding people should be the first step in any co-design process. Even if you work with people day in day out you’ll have gaps in your knowledge of their wants, needs and habits. Its always worth taking time to talk to them first, especially if they are the people you support.

✔️ Learn how to do user research with Catalyst’s Learn User Research email course.

✔️ Want some alternatives? Try other remote user research methods.

2. When you aren’t able to run a user research process

We would always recommend 1-1 user interviews with the people you support. They are the best way to understand people's needs and experiences. Group methods are never as useful. However, sometimes that’s all that's possible.

✔️ Awareness is everything. Be aware of the risks of not doing user interviews. Learn about unconscious bias and 3 types of barriers to inclusive digital design

✔️ Only able to do a focus group? Learn how to get useful user research insights from focus groups.

3. When you need to find people to take part in any research or design event

Whatever your situation or challenge you’ll need to recruit people to take part. You need them to fit the right profile and feel motivated, valued and cared for. This is the same whether it’s for 1-1 interviews or a workshop.

✔️ Use Catalyst’s guide: how to recruit participants. It works for every activity here.

4. When you want to understand people’s current or desired experience of a service

Mapping people’s service journey is a great user research activity. You can do it using insights from user research, as a workshop with stakeholders or even as part of a longer co-design workshop. 

✔️ Learn how to uncover people’s experience using our current journey mapping guide. You can do this as part of a user research process, or even a co-design workshop.

✔️ Mapping a potential improved service experience can also be useful. You can do this as a standalone event or as part of a co-design workshop using our future journey mapping guide.

5. When you want to explore solutions with others

Good solutions come from good insight. And good insight comes from good user research. Perhaps you’ve done the research and documented your insights. If so, you're probably ready to share your insights and explore solutions with others. The best way to do this is in a co-design session. You can run these virtually or face to face.

✔️ Read Catalyst’s guide to how to run a co-design workshop.

You can include journey mapping in your workshop.

6. When you want to focus on generating ideas with people

Co-design workshops take you from exploring needs and problems to exploring solutions. To explore solutions you need to have some ideas. There are many ways to come up with ideas, all of which you can do with others. 

✔️ Learn how to generate ideas when solving problems through digital.

✔️ You might want to go a step further with turning ideas into action by learning prototyping.

Idea generation and prototyping can both be co-design workshop activities.

7. When you need to test how something works

Perhaps you’ve created a prototype of a service or web page.

Or perhaps you’ve an existing service that includes an information or referral point on your website.

Both of these are worth testing with the people who use them before you make any changes. Existing services are best tested as part of a user research process.

✔️ Read NCVO’s overview of a test and learn process.

Remember to…

However you’re involving people in the process, remember to support and take care of them. That way they benefit from taking part. For help with this use our recruitment guide.


Image credit: Centre for Ageing Better's Resource Space

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