Participatory Design is a diverse collection of principles and practices aimed at making technologies, tools, environments, businesses, and social institutions more responsive to human needs. A central tenet of Participatory Design is the direct involvement of people in the co-design of things and technologies they use.
Participatory Design Conferences have been held every two years since 1990 and have formed an important venue for international discussion of the collaborative, social, and political dimensions of technology innovation and use. More recently, the conference agendas have broadened to address participatory approaches in a variety of other arenas, including communications, computer supported cooperative work (CSCW), healthcare, new media, architecture, the arts, and others.
The conferences started as a dialogue about user involvement in IT systems development between, on the one hand, Scandinavian scholars and promoters and, on the other hand, European and Americans interested in how the Scandinavian experience could be adopted and extended. Since then, the conference agendas have broadened to address participatory approaches in a variety of other arenas, including communications, computer supported cooperative work (CSCW), healthcare, new media, architecture, the arts, and others.
PDCs bring together a multidisciplinary and international group of software developers, researchers, social scientists, managers, designers, practitioners, users, cultural workers, activists and citizens who both advocate and adopt distinctively participatory approaches in the development of information and communication artifacts, systems, services and technology. A central concern has always been to understand how collaborative design processes can be driven by the participation of the people affected by the technology designed.
Participatory Design approaches have been used in traditional application domains (such as computer systems for business, CSCW, healthcare and government) and more recently in areas such as web-portal design, e-government services, community networks, enterprise resource planning, social administration and community development, university/community partnerships, telehealth, communities of practice and political deliberation/mobilization (e-democracy), digital arts and design, scholarship and teaching with mediated technologies (e-learning), the experience of a sense of place, Participatory Design in developing countries, cultural production and cultural institutions.