With the Swedish government’s digitising strategy, the public sector has a responsibility to transform and develop digital services based on the needs of the Swedish citizens. The main goal of the strategy is for Sweden to be on the world’s very frontline of using digital opportunities and we are happy to have been chosen by Region Skåne to work with these types of challenges. A likely risk had been predicted of citizens excluded from the new digital society for reasons such as not having any previous digital experience. It landed on the libraries’ lot to prevent this digital exclusion from happening and we were asked to provide a solution. Since librarians and all other occupations are experts in their fields, and because we believe that every single person has creative powers, we were not going to solve the problem for them but to train them in how to attack it themselves. Through a holistic and user-centered approach, we were to empower the public libraries in how to deal with their current and future challenges.
In order to fortify Region Skåne and the library's employees, we offered a four-day workshop-based training in co-design that was provided with every tool needed to take on their challenges through user-centered processes. The program lasted over a three month period and included a mixture of theory and hands-on practices. The participating librarians were guided in how to lead a design process in close collaboration with users. They also learned practical design methodology, how to keep the right mindset and how to constantly validate every design decision with the only people who know: the user and other stakeholders. Throughout the program the participants set their newly acquired knowledge into practice by working with their own specific challenges of how to prevent digital exclusion.
Workshop 1: The Challenge
What is user-centered design · What does a successful design team culture look like · Challenges and assumptions
Who are your users and other stakeholders · How do you reach your users · Methods for user studies
Workshop 2: Ideation
Analysis of user studies · Forming the challenge · Methods for ideation · Sketching ideas · Methods for co-creation
Workshop 3: Prototype
Analysis of user studies · Conceptualisation of ideas · Methods for prototyping · Lo-fi models of concepts · Methods for user tests
Workshop 4: Implementation
Analysis of user tests · Improvements of concepts · Summary of concepts · Map stakeholders · Identify obstacles · Conditions required to enable implementation
The time between the workshops was just as important as the workshops themselves. During this time the participants applied their newly acquired knowledge of methods and tools to connect with their users to really understand their problems, needs and to validate all design choices. This is where they co-created.
It was a great experience to follow these librarians, going from being a bit sceptical about “disturbing” their visitors, to finding the joy and conviction in actually engaging the users throughout the design process. They soon understood the great importance of this technique that enabled them to overcome challenges and to make sustainable impacts.
Due to the limitations of physical meetings by C-19, we transformed the workshop format into a remote program where the participants followed a digital format through online video conferencing and digital whiteboard platforms. In this article you can read more about how these boundaries were adjusted to achieve a successful workshop format.
As the next step in the process of engaging the libraries, we conducted a one-day workshop with the library management. This was primarily to create an understanding of the co-design activities issued by their staff. It also served the purpose of identifying barriers and ideating on possible solutions to enable the different systems necessary for the implementation of their staff’s concepts.
The process to prevent digital exclusion goes on as these librarians confidently continue the journey on their own, having their new proved skills in user-centered design, design process management and design methodology.