Co-design or codesign is a product, service, or organization development process where design professionals empower, encourage, and guide users to develop solutions for themselves. Co-design encourages the blurring of the role between user and designer, focusing on the process by which the design objective is created. This process believes that by encouraging the trained designer and the user to create solutions together, the final result will be more appropriate and acceptable to the user. It is generally recognized that the quality of design increases if the stakeholders’ interests are considered in the design process. Co-design is a development of systems thinking, which according to C. West Churchman “begins when first you view the world through the eyes of another.” As it is, co-design in the different research fields is tightly connected to the conception or creation of artifacts in communities context through a shared vision, social learning and mutual understanding among all key stakeholders, taking in consideration different perspectives and expectations that should be hold in consideration during the co-design process.
The practice of co-design has been around for nearly 40 years, drawing its roots from user-centered design and participatory design. Co-design differs from participatory design in that it does not assume that any stakeholder a priori is more important than any other. It also differs from various user-centered design approaches in that it acknowledges that the client or beneficiary of the design may not be using the artifact itself.
Co-design is often used by trained designers who recognize the difficulty in properly understanding the cultural, societal, or usage scenarios encountered by their user. C. K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy are usually given credit for bringing co-creation/co-design to the minds of those in the business community with the 2004 publication of their book, The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers. They propose:
- “The meaning of value and the process of value creation are rapidly 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.”
The phrase co-design is also used in reference to the simultaneous development of interrelated software and hardware systems. The term co-design has become popular in mobile phone development, where the two perspectives of hardware and software design are brought into a co-design process.
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