Design has the power to improve people’s lives and to fuel and create enterprises that both drive prosperity and help us make best use of limited resources.

We are exploring the barriers to effectiveness for the creative industries, and exploring ways for a everyone, business included, to take steps to enable the greater use of design, particularly where is it user led, collaborative or co-design.

We are developing and testing tools and strategies to increase empathy and communication between designers and clients or service users, drawing ideas and insight from general design practice, game design, psychology, ethnography, educational theory, activism, critical studies or acting and performance techniques.

Cognitive Accessibility for digital health 2020-2021

According to the 2020 Lloyd’s Bank Digital Index, 16% of the UK population are unable to use the internet and their devices by themselves, and many more struggle to access and make the most of digital health products services. It’s not necessarily who we might expect either: 44% of those offline are under the age of 60, and the reasons for this are not yet fully explored.

This study was devised using service design approaches, and uses rapid ethnography, and user centricity to capture and examine the experiences of people using digital health tools and services.

These questions are explored:

  • Are cognitive impairments a significant barrier or hindrance to those using digital healthcare? 
  • Are cognitive accessibility factors well understood and addressed yet?
    If not, why, and what can we do about this?

Key themes and insights are outlined and placed in social, cultural and legal context. 

A representative group of existing cognitive accessibility guidelines are placed under initial review, a draft evaluation framework established, and next steps identified.

The preliminary report has been shared within the NHS, and has been well recieved across the sector. Further research is planned.

The Cognitive Accessibility for Digital Health 2020 2021 report on

Design and Design values

How can we ensure the future of the design industry, if we don’t understand the full range of critical factors that underpin its current success?

To try to get as accurate and inclusive a picture as possible, the Design Values project looked at how UK design industry can reach its full potential though mapping the expectations, values and skills of the designer.

A series of action research events were held in conjunction with the Innovate UK Creative KTN Design Special Interest Group to facilitate design thinkers and designers in uncovering why this is the case. Innovative design facilitation tools were developed and used to help both designers and non-designers alike quickly externalise their views and values.

The Design & Design Values report, produced with the support of the Innovate UK Creative KTN, explores the project findings, and highlights the tension between design and values, and raises many questions around what design needs to remain effective in the future.

On the surface the creative industries appear healthy, producing £71.7BN GVN in 2015, an abundance of innovative work and utilising a wide range of talent to do so. This very success is leading us to oversell certain aspects of design, such as the skills and quantifiable outputs of designers, yet to chronically undervalue and sacrifice important intangibles such as the ability of individual designers to communicate well, build the trust that creative work requires, and to be effective in the future.

The design industry is bending over backwards to meet the social and economic needs of our society. Designers must better communicate the value of this, to ensure the understanding, support and investment it needs in order to do so.
A new and more inclusive language is needed around what design is and “does” in order to ensure that educators, business and government alike understand its true value – and how to create the best environment for design to deliver.

The Design & Design Values report on