skip to primary navigation skip to content

Create activities

The Create phase is about identifying solutions to meet the needs identified in the Explore phase. It ranges from producing initial fledgling ideas, to developing storyboards or prototypes that can be tested.

This page describes the activities within the Create phase of the Inclusive Design Wheel, and explains how they apply to inclusive design of transport services.

On this page:

The page about codesign contains some guidance on running a co-creation workshop, which is particularly relevant for this section.

Involve users

Understanding users’ behaviour, motivations and goals is central to a successful solution, and this activity reflects that involving users in the creative process can be a very powerful way to ensure their perspectives are not forgotten, as well as promoting ownership of the potential solutions. There are many ways to do this, but co-creation workshops are one typical format.

Inviting users into the creative process, shifts the emphasis from ‘designing for’ to ‘designing with’. This can be extremely helpful to help focus ideas on actual needs and ensure that proposals work in the context of real users' experiences. In addition, this co-creation process can assist with downstream acceptance of a solution, e.g. within a community. Users can also produce valuable and inspirational ideas often from a very different set of perspectives to those of the project team.

When running co-creation activities, it is important to select the users carefully to ensure that they represent the important characteristics of the range of target users, and that particular individuals' needs do not overly dominate the group, and consequently, the ideas produced. What this will look like in practice depends on the particular target groups the project team is interested in, but factors to consider might include gender, capability and age. For example, if a team is focused on supporting transportation for immigrants in rural areas and is not specifically addressing issues of age or gender, it should nevertheless ensure that a mix of ages and genders are included in the co-creation activities.

There are some general principles that need to be considered when involving users in an exploration or design process:

  • Ethical considerations are extremely important. See the page about ethics for more detail, but consent, privacy and GDPR are key aspects
  • Use the insights from all participants— try to manage dominant characters so that quieter participants can also effectively contribute
  • Facilitate the diverse ways that participants may wish to express their creativity — e.g. by allowing participants to contribute ideas in written form, sketched, submitted later or spoken.
  • Ensure that participants understand the context for their contributions and that their insights and ideas will be valuable, but may not be actioned as a part of this project

Further guidance is available within the page about co-creation workshops.

Involve other stakeholders

Involving users in the creative activities helps can bring new directions and creative insights. However, users are unlikely to be able to assess whether an idea is feasible from a political, practical or economic perspective. Involving other stakeholders, such as service providers, broadens the opportunity for creative solutions which leverage known and feasible technological advances, in addition to the ability to help refine and filter ideas for feasibility. Service provider engagement in the solution creation will also help ensure that those service providers support the project, which can increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Stimulate ideas

The aim of the stimulating ideas activity is to maximise the quality and quantity of ideas that the team are able to draw upon when they need to choose a solution to develop. Key to achieving this is to facilitate a creative environment in which participants can feel free to generate what might otherwise be judged as 'far-fetched' or even 'stupid' ideas. Those outlandish ideas may become feasible with technology, may inspire other participants to share a more practical idea, and liberate the ambience in the room to become more creative.

However, the human brain is extremely good at recognising patterns and following well-worn ways of thinking. When trying to think of new ideas, this behaviour can cause fixation, and can impede lateral and creative thinking. Many creative tools use techniques to help thought processes break away from this linear thinking and help free the brain to think differently.

Some key principles to keep in mind during this activity include the following:

  • Actively promote and give permission for participants to generate as many ideas as possible at any point in the process, without fear of judgement. There are no bad ideas: only more ideas, and more ideas are better than few!
  • Actively prohibit judgement or critical assessment of ideas when they are being generated - this will slow the process down and discourage further idea sharing.
  • Make sure all ideas are clearly and individually captured and named or numbered to facilitate further discussion, development and selection.
  • Don't get stuck in old ways of thinking: listing and then challenging assumptions about how things are normally done can help
  • Encourage wacky ideas, look for inspiration in unusual places, and ask 'How else could it be done?'

Once a good number of ideas have been generated, and the group feel they have all described all their main ideas, it can be helpful to group them to draw out key themes. Producing an initial prioritisation of ideas can also be useful, e.g. by participants voting by putting small stickers on ideas, or anonymous voting by relevant stakeholders. Evaluation activities can also be used at this stage to inspire further creativity.

Further information

Develop & refine ideas

The initial activity of stimulating ideas encourages diverging thinking to generate as many ideas as possible, asking questions like ‘how else could this be done?’. Subsequently, the process of developing and refining ideas encourages convergent thinking to improve on a smaller selection of the ideas, asking questions like ‘which one of these ideas is the best’ and ‘how could this idea be improved’.

Initial ideas will only represent partial solutions to some aspects of the stakeholder needs. The process of developing and refining ideas need to combine these together into proposals for concept solutions or a solution, which will solve the whole problem.

One systematic approach to concept development uses a morphological chart to define particular categories or headings for the functions that the solution should perform, and then describing holistic solutions according to the ideas or solutions that it utilises for each of these functions.

Considering a set of solutions in this way encourages new solutions to be developed as crossover combinations of existing concepts. Furthermore, it shows the extent of the ideas that have been considered for each functional heading. If the whole range of concepts all utilise the same solution principle for one of the functional headings, it is likely the creative space has not been sufficiently explored.

More information on morphological charts is available from the Institute for Manufacturing, which is part of the University of Cambridge.

Make storyboards or prototypes

A user journey that involves a transport service may involve multiple interactions with various people and various physical objects, including ticket machines, displays and smart phones. Prototyping is typically used to demonstrate physical aspects of concept design proposals, whereas storyboarding is typically used to demonstrate how various interactions might occur.

A storyboard is a pictorial representation of a sequence of events. These can be sketched during a workshop to communicate a concept or idea, or can be developed afterwards to allow a clearer and more nuanced story to be described. For software projects a storyboard can be described using an annotated series of screenshots.

A prototype is a physical or virtual demonstration of a concept. Different kinds of prototypes are best suited to different objectives, at different levels of fidelity. For example, a cardboard model may be used to get an initial indication of the geometry, whereas a 3D printing model may be required for further refinement of the look and feel. It is often the case that multiple different prototypes are required to fulfil different purposes.

For software projects, a prototype could be a mock application that includes clickable elements, which can be created in a prototyping environment like Figma. Paper prototypes can also be beneficial for software projects, and interactions with users can be tested by having an experiment to manipulate the paper materials to simulate the behaviour of a fully working system.

Further information

  • The website has a page about Prototyping which discusses prototyping in the context of software or web development.