Audience as Co-Designer is a process by where the designer or design team steps back as the prominent idea maker and the audience is put in the position of the designer. This is done to put the cultural views and influence as the primary focus of the design campaign. The designer or team becomes the collaborator and support system for the audience co-designer.
Research methods such as surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups are used to collect the data necessary to pinpointing the needs of the target audience. When doing research for another country outside the U.S., the same methods or ideas won’t always translate to the needs or ideals of that country’s design problem. In-house research centers and virtual design studios are a great way to find that country’s cultural differences and needs for their problem solving.
Providing the audience/user groups with a formatted design process (as shown in the article) was a great tool in the development of their ideas. The students in the design lab used a process notebook as the form to develop and weed out the weakest ideas. The Kenyans were taught the design fundamentals. Through communication with their peers, the Kenyans developed their own sets of promotional campaigns for their problem. A series of interviews from actual victims were important to the campaign. They told the stories of 2 women who were treated unfairly because of their unfortunate circumstances. Now these women travel around, share their stories, and help promote the services of the HIV/AIDS foundation. The design sketches made by the audience participants were given critique from their peers in the development of their designs. These suggestions were used in some of the final promotional materials.
This process seems to be a great way of getting much needed information and input from an audience we (the designers) would normally not be able to get through traditional research means. It also enforces the importance of the audience as the final user of a campaign. We should always remember the audience and their needs or viewpoints of a campaign so we can make the best an strongest designs we can.