Co-design with young people

The only way to create services for young people, is in collaboration with young people. Putting young people (as users) at the heart of design, through creative, fast and continual design methods all provide ways for them to be involved through the process of creating innovative solutions.


  1. Here's a short film from Thinkpublic explaining co-design.
  2. The Story of Co-Design
  3. Co-design means services users (young people, customers, pensioners, disabled people, workers) and designers (be them builders, digital experts, service managers) working together to create a service that takes into account the different views, needs and wants of the community.  
  4. What different approaches to co-design are there?

  5. Interactivism - Young People's Hack Weekend - Over the weekend, over 130 social innovators, developers, designers, young people and practitioners  were challenged to come up with innovative ways of using the web to help young people get into the job they want, or onto the training or education that will help them get there in the future. 80 ideas were  submitted online before the event and 10 chosen selected to be worked on at the weekend. 
  6. Interactivism hack weekend, London June 2011
  7. Livity is a youth engagement agency and works with young people every day to co-create campaigns, content and communities for companies such as Google, Coke, PlayStation, BBC, Home Office, O2 and Channel 4. Young people get training, equipment, support and opportunities to build 'brighter futures' and they support the Livity team to provide clients with a pool of young talen, energy, ideas and youth insights.

  8. What arrangements (funding, structures, support) make co-design work well and sustainable? 

    The principles of co-design and the participation of users in the design of services they use is easy to agree with. But making it happen and doing it well can be harder and challenging for all those involved. 

    MashableTech has put together a short article on co-design and what works in practice. The article is here.
  9. Innovation Labs was a 6 month project that explored how digital innovations can supporting young people with mental health challenges  Through an online community, idea incubation and support, two national events it is an excellent example of working with young people through a user-centred design process. 
  10. Innovation Labs was funded by the Nominet Trust, Right Here, Comic Relief, Mental Health Foundation and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Funding was available to young people to participate fully, from a range of backgrounds and with the possibility of projects reaching the final stages of co-design to be taken forward.
  11. Joe, who co-managed the project, concluded their were four things he learnt from the Innovation Labs process about co-design with young people:

    1. Business design tools work really well

    2. Developing personas and user journeys makes a huge difference to the end result

    3. Voluntary sector values exist within commercial digital agencies

    4. Initiatives like Innovation Labs can’t exist in big voluntary sector orgs

    You can be read Joe's blog here. 
  12. The Big Lottery Fund recruited a term of young people from across the country to help co-design BIG's next round of investment in young people - and used a range of media to help them collaborate between events. Their comments in this post by Charlotte Tizzard highlight the effort needed to make this approach work well. 
  13. Ideas on co-design are part of the many great lessons learned in the Reboot Britain video clips....
  14. Reboot Britain - Lessons Learned
  15. Are we co-designing with the right people?

    Young people have a right to be involved in decision making and that includes the design of services they use and that their engagement needs to be meaningful. Co-design is not just about consultation but genuine partnership between users and designers.
  16. "We need to consult young people from a range of backgrounds, particularly those who are not usually included and whose voice has not become politicised or media friendly."

    "Young people should not just be sounding boards for pre-fab ideas/theories. And what is in it for them? Why should they bother to get involved?" @eugenieee @sparkandmettle
  17. There are a number of challenges

    "Even adopting good co-design practices, how do we develop ideas with those who are best placed to inform and use new products and services? How do we ensure that we work with those who are facing these social challenges, rather than simply working with those who share some demographic similarities?"

    @Peacechild have a great amount of experience in co-management and co-design of projects and participation of young people in range of sectors and environments. Visit and download their report.