Doing co-design: What, why, with who and how?

In co-design those impacted by the proposed design are actively involved as partners in the design process. Co-design is being used in government, community and health sectors to extend traditional consultation methods and increase program reach and impact. Co-design approaches are also being used by corporates to engage internal stakeholders and customers, identify new service opportunities and improve existing ones. But what is it, why do it and how?

When ‘doing’ co-design, the role of the designer becomes one of facilitator: enabling participation, designing the right triggers, questions and scaffolds in which meaningful and effective participation can occur. Getting this right can be challenging and raise a few interesting questions along the way.

In this presentation we will share our approach to co-design developed over the last eight years working with a range of organisations in Australia and New Zealand. The presentation will draw upon case studies such as the design of HIV testing services with Australian men, the design of service strategies and mental health programs with young people and mental health professionals and an organisational wide co-design training for program for librarians, aimed at preparing them to become co-designers themselves.

The presentation will cover the key principles and framework we apply in designing co-design workshops, favourite activities for involving and priming groups of people for productive participation as well as tips and considerations for doing co-design in dynamic, sensitive and political situations.

We will also explore questions raised by co-design such as:

  • How creative can ‘users’ be?
  • What level of influence do ‘users’ have?
  • What happens to the expertise of the ‘designer’?
  • How far can we/should we take it?
  • How do you know when you (or the organisation you are working with) are ready adopt a co-design approach?

Presentation audio


Doing co-design: What, why, with who and how? -  Penny Hagen and Natalie Rowland


Penny Hagen
Natalie Rowland