WhY participatory design?
Here are five ways in which a participatory design (PD) approach could benefit you and the community you work with.
A PD approach entails constant reality checks — does this idea really work? Would people use it? When our understanding of people’s needs and interests is based on real findings rather than assumptions, we have a higher chance of ensuring a successful design outcome for them.
A PD approach creates space for a community to own the solution. Instead of prescribing solutions to people, we facilitate them with people. When people are able to give creative, critical input and translate them into action, we can better cultivate responsibility and ownership towards the eventual outcomes.
A PD approach focuses on a community’s strengths rather than its weaknesses, by harnessing each person’s skills, knowledge and resources. When people are aware of their ability to offer something positive to the design process, we can build more confident, resilient communities.
A PD approach involves open dialogue between various stakeholders of the community. When people are able to understand that there are different and competing positions on an issue, they often develop a more nuanced picture and are therefore more open to exploring new solutions.
A PD approach creates opportunities for people to meet and work together on a shared vision. This builds new social capital and strengthens existing networks. When people know one another better, they tend to be more tolerant, trustful, and capable of making change collectively.