Collaborative and iterative prototyping to design for complex issues.
“In just 12 months the Development Impact and You (DIY) toolkit has had 350,000 hits and 40,000 downloads from people in over 200 countries. According to a survey done recently, 100 percent of its users feel that it has made their work more effective and have lauded the practicality of the toolkit.”Development Impact and You
The Development Impact and You (DIY) Toolkit is a compendium of practical and actionable tools for social innovators across the globe. Designed through a collaboration between Quicksand and STBY, DIY was commissioned by NESTA and Rockefeller Foundation in mid 2013. Faced with the challenge of designing a toolkit for diverse social, cultural and organizational contexts across the globe, co-designing and iterative prototyping was adopted as the process for delivering a well researched outcome. Here is how we made DIY relevant and actionable for a broad spectrum of development practitioners:
Collaborating with users requires the design and research teams to build a shared vocabulary that is stripped of assumptions and acknowledges the nuance 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 away from the stereotypes around innovation was perhaps one of the most significant discoveries of the project early on.
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-fidelity web and print prototypes, and piloted them with organizations 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.
Creating a constructive environment for collaboration is key to delivering exceptional products that have to draw upon the specialized skills of multiple teams – resembling in that sense a synchronized rowing team more than a relay race.
Quicksand partnered 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’.
“We learned a great deal from the Quicksand process of co-design and user testing and thanks to them unearthed some really fascinating perspectives on innovation, which helped us frame the toolkit in a meaningful way for our audience. This project has become a model for the future design and delivery of many NESTA projects and learning products.”Theo Kane, Senior Programme Manager (Innovation Skills), NESTA U.K.