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Using co-design to build for a cross-cultural audience

To bring the DIY toolkit to life, Nesta collaborated with Indian innovation consultancy Quicksand and London-based design research agency STBY. In this blog post, Quicksand talk through the process of creating one product that would work for the toolkit’s wide-reaching and diverse audience.


With the DIY toolkit, we were faced with the challenge of designing something that could be used by a diverse mix of social, cultural and organisational contexts across the globe. In order to deliver a well-researched outcome, we decided to adopt a process of co-designing and iterative prototyping.

Here are a few of the key steps that that helped us make DIY relevant and actionable for a broad spectrum of development practitioners.


Creating a shared vocabulary with users



Collaborating with users requires design and research teams to build a shared vocabulary that is stripped of assumptions and acknowledges the nuances that may exist in the understanding users have across different cultures. Letting the voice of the user guide the project’s evolution leaves little room for uncertainty or ambiguity.

Quicksand led the very first stage of the project to understand the perceptions around innovation as they existed amongst practitioners working in NGOs, social ventures, research think tanks, academia, international aid and the government. Breaking where can i buy cheap tramadol away from the stereotypes around innovation was perhaps one of the most significant discoveries of the project early on.


Testing from the get go



The translation of insights into tangible design is never a smooth transition. When building for communities that are separated geographically and culturally, arriving at the right solution requires the solution to be prototyped and tested in ‘real-life’ contexts.

We created holistic lo-fi web and print prototypes, and piloted them with organisations and individuals on live projects across nine countries. A month of testing and multiple conversations with users gave us practical feedback on what worked and what didn’t; and provided rich supporting content for the toolkit in the form of real life case studies


Building through partnerships


Creating a constructive environment for collaboration is key to delivering exceptional products that have to draw upon the specialised skills of multiple teams – resembling in that sense a synchronised rowing team more than a relay race.

Quicksand partnered with researchers, editors, content writers, publication designers, web developers, development institutions and a host of willing test users – all working together passionately to create a resource that didn’t end up as ‘just another toolkit’.

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