methods and tools

competences: Methods and tools

Prototyping in both the studio and the real world contexts is key in my design practice. In order to do so my projects integrate methods and techniques that include, for example, the utilization of


Tangible Interaction Prototyping



Wireframing is a low-fidelity representation, a way to design a website or app service at the structural level. A wireframe is commonly used to lay out content and functionality on a page which takes into account user needs and user journeys. Wireframes are used early in the development process to establish the basic structure of a page before visual design and content is added.

I am familiar with Wireframing tools such as Axure, Sketch, Invision, Marvel, Fluid UI, Justinmind, InDesign, Photoshop,...​


A mockup is a middle to high-fidelity, static, design representation. Very often a mockup is a visual design draft, or even the actual visual design. A well created mockup.

UX Sketching

Sketching is a very low-fidelity representation, a distinctive form of drawing which we designers use to propose, explore, refine and communicate our ideas. As a UX designer, you too can use sketching as your first line of attack to crack a design problem.

Lo Fi Prototyping

A low-fidelity prototype is a quick and easy tangible representation of a concept, a use flow, or an information structure created for getting quick feedback and improving the product.


Hi Fi Prototyping

A Hi Fi Prototyping is a fully functioning prototype that effectively resemble the final version of your design.


Representaiton of tan object, situation, or set of information as a chart or other image.

Tools such as

Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator

Space design



User Research Methods

Context of Use Methods

  • Contextual Inquiry
  • A contextual inquiry is a customer interview centered around observing the customer perform tasks. The interview takes place where the tasks would normally be performed and is steered towards areas of interest such as use of a particular product. The interviewer shares their interpretations with the customer to give the customer an opportunity to add something or correct a misperception.
  • Context of Use Analysis
  • Longitudinal Study

Ethnographic Methods

Field study Methods


Focus Group

A focus group is a qualitative research method that assembles a group of 4-12 people to ask them about their ideas, impressions, perceptions, tastes and feelings about concepts, designs, products, packaging or experiences. The term implies a process for turning such conversations into data. The demographics of the focus group is typically carefully designed. Groups may be given case studies, product samples or user interfaces.

qualitative research techniques


Contextual Inquiry

User Story

A user story is a short statement that describes an single expectation that a user has for a product, service or system. They are used as functional requirements to build and test features. User stories are associated with agile project methodologies such as scrum.

User Diaries

A diary study collects information from participants by having them repeatedly record their thoughts about a specific activity or experience over a period of time, which may vary from a few days to a few months. This method is often used to get highly contextual information to assess attitudes, behaviors, and/or motivations. Diary studies are great at reporting the “why” of the documented experience and, because of the longitudinal nature, you also see how and why this experience can change.

Cultural Probes

Cultural probes are sets of simple artifacts (such as maps, postcards, cameras, or diaries) that are given to users for them to record specific events, feelings or interactions in their usual environment, in order to get to know them and their culture better. Cultural probes are used to uncover aspects of culture and human interaction like emotions, values, connections, and trust.

approaches to design

etc.) or the usage of notions such co-design (co-creation, participatory design, collaborative design, etc.) among others.

research methodologies





group work

When it comes to innovation, bringing together distinctive knowledge and perspectives from diverse experiences is critical. Working with professionals and colleagues from different fields and contexts towards a common goal enable designers to develop proposals that effectively and sustainably meet social needs by establishing new relationships and better use of resources.



In order to develop real solutions to problems it is fundamental to involve stakeholders and users in all steps of the problem-solving process.

This approach enhances effectiveness and efficiency, improves human well-being, user satisfaction, accessibility and sustainability; and counteracts possible adverse effects of use on human health, safety and performance.


definitions of different types of disciplinarities

Participatory Design
User Driven Design
Design Thinking
Digital innovation
Concept development
critical design
state of the art research

Research the level of development (as of a device, procedure, process, technique, or science) reached at any particular time usually as a result of modern methods

definitions of different types of disciplinarities

There are so many definitions and interpretations of these terms. The next are just some definitions:
Intradisciplinary Design

Working within a single discipline.


Viewing one discipline from the perspective of another.

Multidisciplinary Design

People from different disciplines working together, each drawing on their disciplinary knowledge. A multidisciplinary design approach seeks to integrate the skills and methodology of designers from multiple disciplines into a collaborative effort. Multidisciplinary designers need to understand how diverse areas of expertise can come together to solve complex design problems.

Interdisciplinary Design

Integrating knowledge and methods from different disciplines, using a real synthesis of approaches.

Transdisciplinary Design

1- Creating a unity of intellectual frameworks beyond the disciplinary perspectives. 

2- Transdisciplinary Design offers an emphasis on systems and interaction design to help solve and re-think complex challenges and propose solutions, new narratives or new discourses that will naturally take the form of new experiences, services, business models, movements or systems.

3- Bringing together distinctive knowledge and perspectives from diverse experiences. Working with professionals and colleagues from different fields and contexts towards a common goal enable designers to develop proposals that effectively and sustainably meet social needs by establishing new relationships and better use of resources

approaches to design

Participatory design (user as a partner)

Participatory design (originally co-operative design, now often co-design) is an approach to design attempting to actively involve all stakeholders (e.g. employees, partners, customers, citizens, end users) in the design process to help ensure the result meets their needs and is usable.


Co-creation to refer to any act of collective creativity.


Co-design is a specific instance of co-creation. 

Co-design in a broader sense to refer to the creativity of designers and people not trained in design working together in the design development process.

Co-design is a well-established approach to creative practice, particularly within the public sector. It has its roots in the participatory design techniques developed in Scandinavia in the 1970s. Co-design is often used as an umbrella term for participatory, co-creation and open design processes.

Co-design reflects a fundamental change in the traditional designer-client relationship. The co-design approach enables a wide range of people to make a creative contribution in the formulation and solution of a problem. This approach goes beyond consultation by building and deepening equal collaboration between citizens affected by, or attempting to, resolve a particular challenge. A key tenet of co-design is that users, as 'experts' of their own experience, become central to the design process.

The role of facilitation (usually undertaken or coordinated by designers) is an essential component of a successful co-design project. Facilitators provide ways for people to engage with each other as well as providing ways to communicate, be creative, share insights and test out new ideas.

A wide range of tools and techniques are available to support the co-design process, these can help participants create user personas, storyboards and user journeys. Potential solutions can be tested through prototyping and scenario generation techniques. The Service Design Tools site based on the work of Roberta Tassi provides a good selection of co-design tools.

Participatory Design vs Co-Design

Co-creation and Participatory Design are related but not identical approaches to technology design.


Participatory Design is rooted in a Scandinavian cooperative design tradition with a strong emphasis on the political aspects of technology design. Here, the object of design processes is not only the new artifact being design, it is also the design process in which participants (through processes of mutual learning) gain insight into design processes and the impact technology has on human practice. As stated by Bødker (A for Alternatives 2003)  "...we [participatory designers] commit to working with people, groups or organisations to explore what current and future technologies may support them in their particular setting. Not so much to build their future technology but to help them realize that they have a choice".

Co-creation is also emphasizing the shared work of design. Here multiple stakeholders gather to form/create new technology. Co-creation is not necessarily political - or apolitical - it just has a focus on the collaboration during a design process. In 2008 Sanders and Pieters painted a landscape of different approaches to design. It is a very useful model to get a first hand understanding of different approaches such as co-creatrion, user centre design, participatory design, cooperative design, etc. Elizabeth B-N. Sanders and Jan Stappers Pieter. “Co-Creation and The New Landscapes of Design.” (Co-design 4, no. 1 (2008): 5-18).

co-creation as mass-customization

- shifting from a product- and firm-centric view to personalized consumer experiences. Informed, networked, empowered and active consumers are increasingly co-creating value with the firm.

For many, co-creation is the latest trend in marketing and brand development.

In our experience as researchers and practitioners, we have seen that co-creation practiced at the

early front end of the design development process can have an impact with positive, long-range

consequences. This mirrors Jungk’s observation that “participation at the moment of idea

generation” is an important place to be practicing participatory design. However, “participation

at the moment of decision” is gaining in interest as well. The application of participatory design

practices (both at the moment of idea generation and continuing throughout the design process at

all key moments of decision) to very large scale problems will change design and may change the


Human-Centered Design (HCD) or User-Centered Design (user as a subject)

1- Human-Centered Design or User-Centered Design is an approach to designing and developing products where a professional team focuses on user needs in an iterative fashion throughout the product life cycle. The team usually consists of creative and business professionals of various stripes (information architects, visual designers, developers, project managers, writers, editors) who together strategize, plan, create, and implement a project.

2- Human centered design can be defined as the process that places the human needs and limitations in a higher priority compared with other targets during the design thinking and production differential stages. During this process, the designer is required not only to analyze and come up with the solution for existing problems but test and validate the designed products or service to achieve planned targets in the real world.”

3-Human-centred design is an approach to interactive systems development that aims to make systems usable and useful by focusing on the users, their needs and requirements, and by applying human factors/ergonomics, usability knowledge, and techniques. This approach enhances effectiveness and efficiency, improves human well-being, user satisfaction, accessibility and sustainability; and counteracts possible adverse effects of use on human health, safety and performance.

Participatory Design vs. Human-Centered Design or User-Centered Design

-Human-Centered Design or User Centred Design: the design of the product is conducted by a team of [creative and business] professionals considering the user needs. The developer team owns the final product.


-Participatory Design: the design of the product adds the end-user to the team of professionals. The end-users can produce content, make decisions (on functionalities and look and feel). The end-users also owns the final product.

Participatory Design vs. Human-Centered Design or User-Centered Design

In a caricature of the classical user-centered design process, the user is a passive object of study, and the researcher brings knowledge from theories and develops more knowledge through observation and interviews.

In co-design, on the other hand, the roles get mixed up: the person who will eventually be served

through the design process is given the position of ‘expert of his/her experience’, and plays a

large role in knowledge development, idea generation and concept development. In generating

insights, the researcher supports the “expert of his/her experience” by providing tools for ideation

and expression. The designer and the researcher collaborate on the tools for ideation because

design skills are very important in the development of the tools. The designer and researcher may,

in fact, be the same person. The designer still plays a critical role in giving form to the ideas.​

Sometimes “users” can play co-creating roles throughout the design process, i.e., become codesigners,

but not always. It depends on level of expertise, passion, and creativity of the “user”.

All people are creative but not all people become designers. Four levels of creativity can be seen

in people’s lives: doing, adapting, making and creating (see Table II, and Sanders, 2006b) These

four levels vary in terms of the amount of expertise and interest needed. Expertise,

interest/passion, effort, and returns grow with each level.

People with a high level of passion and

knowledge in a certain domain who are invited to participate directly in the design process can 

certainly become co-designers. For example, this is beginning to take place today with

physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals in the design of new healthcare systems and

environments. (Observations based on the first author’s role on planning and architectural design

teams). Sometimes patients and family members become a part of the design team as well.

The role of the researcher: from translator to facilitator

\\In the traditional design process, the researcher served as a translator between the “users” and the

designer. In co-designing, the researcher (who may be a designer) takes on the role of a

facilitator. When we acknowledge that different levels of creativity exist, it becomes evident that

we need to learn how to offer relevant experiences to facilitate people’s expressions of creativity

at all levels. This means leading, guiding, and providing scaffolds as well as clean slates to

encourage people at all levels of creativity. It is not always the case that we want to push people

beyond their level of interest, passion and creativity. Different approaches to inviting and

involving future users into the design development process will be needed for the different levels

of creativity. As researchers we will need to learn how to:


- to embrace co-creativity requires that one believes that all people are creative. This is not a commonly

accepted belief, particularly amongst those in the business community.

- Co-designing threatens the existing power structures by requiring that control be relinquished and be given to potential

customers, consumers or end-users.

- The new generations are having an easier time in distributing and sharing the control

and ownership. This change in attitude is largely possible because the internet had given a voice to people who were previously not even a part of the conversations.


participatory thinking is antithetical to consumerism, in which personal happiness is

equated with purchasing and consuming material goods.


A third reason that it has taken co-creation so long to have an impact is that participatory design

has been seen as academic endeavor with little or no relevance for the competitive marketplace.


But it is now becoming apparent that the user-centered design approach cannot address

the scale or the complexity of the challenges we face today. We are no longer simply designing

products for users. We are designing for the future experiences of people, communities and

cultures who now are connected and informed in ways that were unimaginable even 10 years ago

Consequently, new disciplines of design have begun to emerge. “Interaction design” was first

introduced in the late 1980’s


move from user-centered design to co-designing allow designer to taclke complex issues such as 

such as cultural transformation or future healthcare experiences, 

psychological and ergonomic

challenges involved with obese patients

tools for ideation and expression



I have experience in working within the traditional design disciplines focusing on the designing of “products”. . . . . . .

also working within the emerging design disciplines focusing on designing for a purpose, or open ended oportunities.

such as cultural transformation or future healthcare experiences, 

psychological and ergonomic

challenges involved with obese patients

I have experience in working towads the design and developemnt of products but also towards open-ended oportunities. 

I am very intrested int the involved not only in the design of stand-alone products but in the design of

environments and systems for delivering healthcare, for example. The design

The use of

generative design tools let one look forward into the possible futures of the people


in the future will make the tools for non-designers to use to express themselves creatively.

have. Designers professionally keep track of existing,

new and emerging technologies, have an overview of production processes and business contexts.

This knowledge will still be relevant throughout the design development process.

Isabel Valdés Marín. All rights reserved. © 2018