Co-designing an SMS service for London’s homeless people: Considerations for designers engaging with a vulnerable user group

Ohyoon Kwon
Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

Annemiek van Boeijen
Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

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Ingår i: ServDes.2012 Conference Proceedings Co-Creating Services; The 3rd Service Design and Service Innovation Conference; 8-10 February; Espoo; Finland

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 67:15, s. 133-145

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Publicerad: 2013-10-16

ISBN: 978-91-7519-482-0

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


This paper reports the challenges of designers developing an SMS service for and with a vulnerable user group; homeless people; and their supporting agencies in London. It also describes the deployed methods in the design process. Co-design activities were performed with homeless people in and outside their living environments such as streets; a hostel and a day centre. The first author engaged with them as an insider (volunteer) or an outsider (designer or facilitator). This paper highlights how co-design activities in the inside and outside environments of a vulnerable user group affect the engagement of this group. Furthermore; the paper discusses ethical issues and the different roles (insider-outsider; volunteer-professional) designers are confronted with in this particular situation. We finally recommend designers to allow participants to share ownership of the project and carefully consider their capabilities of engagement.


Service design; Co-design; Participatory design; Vulnerable user group; Homeless people


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