Blick Eyes

Creating innovative concepts and ideas with co-design


Co-design has become popular in recent years as web developers and graphic designers search for more innovative concepts that satisfy the requirements of all stakeholders in a design project. It’s based on the idea that end-users are experts of their own experiences, allowing their perspective to guide the design and innovation process

Also known as co-operative or collaborative design or participatory design, co-design involves all stakeholders (i.e. employees, partners, customers, citizens and end users) in the design process to ensure their needs are met and the results are successful. Research shows that designers create more innovative concepts and ideas when working in a co-design environment.

The term is used across a variety of fields including software design, architecture, product design, environment planning and last but not least graphic and web design. Co-design is often used to properly understand cultural, societal or usage scenarios, enhancing the effectiveness of the design for the end user.

The process for creating a co-design environment can vary greatly from project to project but it typically involves the following steps:

  • Initial preparation and research – define goals and objectives of the project and the relevant stakeholders and users that will be involved. Customer or end-user feedback or questions may help in identifying what research tools, exercises and questionnaires that need to be developed.
  • Workshop and stakeholder input – workshops, questionnaires and exercises involving stakeholders and designers to develop concepts and ideas
  • Build, test and review design concepts
  • Implement into production 

Case Study – Merri Health

Merri Health, a disability and healthcare provider, wanted a journal that would assist their carers in their roles and in the planning of their day-to-day lives. Merri Health also wanted to promote and support their careers and their well-being through an innovative co-design and creative process.

As the product was for their carers’ benefit, involving them in the design process was vitally important for the success of the project. This required an approach that went way beyond a standard questionnaire and answer process.

Merri Health worked with the design team from Blick Creative to create a co-design environment that incorporated storytelling, expressive drawing and other visual and communication exercises. The schedule for the day session ran as follows:

  • Discussion
  • Mind map exercise
  • Adult colouring
  • Expressive drawing
  • Journal entry
  • Story Telling

The session left the participants inspired and eager to see the project come to life. The design team could then go away and build the concepts and develop the ideas generated. Actual drawings, journal entries and sketches developed by the carers have been used in developing the journal.


Co-desisgn is a powerful approach to ensure the success of a web or graphic design project. By incorporating the ideas and concepts of the very people who will be using the product ensures usability and relevance. A co-design exercise often elicits responses or information that participants wouldn’t or can’t often express in a standard focus group or question and answer scenario.

By Mark Schiffer


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