An Evolving Map of Design

In 2007 Liz Sanders published an evolving map of design that provided an overview of two distinct mindsets. The designer as expert: where users are seen as subjects, and the participatory mindset: where users are seen as partners and active co-creators. The diagram also illustrated the gulf between design-led and research-led approaches.

What’s helpful is the acknowledgment that user-centered design and participatory design aren’t necessarily the same thing. There’s a bit of overlap but they hale from separate camps. Here’s some detail on the distinctions [PDF 268k]

Service design seems to fall somewhere in between these clusters. Pulling from many different areas of user-centered and participatory design as well as from generative design research and from cultural probes.




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