Last week I had the opportunity to spend a week in ImaginationLancaster with Leapfrog researchers to develop my tool design skills. This visit was very educative and insightful as we are in the midst of developing GSA’s Major Project ‘Peer to Peer engagement’ tools. I learnt a great deal about the tool design process from my Leapfrog colleagues from ImaginationLancaster

It was an intense and rigorous week of tool design and tool development. As a part of the tool design week I met with Leapfrog researchers individually to bring their expert knowledge into the tool design. For example, Laura helped me to understand ImaginationLancaser’s tool design process and how the ideas are articulated and developed from the co-​design workshops. Hayley helped me to refine the concepts and ideas into essential criteria that were then developed into flexible and adaptable tools. This bottom up approach to tool design was a significant learning for the week.  This helped me to reach a flexible space where I was able to design and develop many tools that was appropriate for the community and at the same time flexible for adaptation.

One of the key learning from Leon was to remember to reflect on the research question(s) at every stage of the tools design. By doing so, we link the tools to a wider research landscape and this could benefit our evaluation process. 

Meeting the team collectively for tool reviews and brainstorming sessions also proved to be significant in taking the tools forward. These meeting brought many expert views on the tools design which wouldn’t have been possible with a single person’s perspective.

In one of the session I was asked to present 20 different ideas for one of the tools from the project. This was a challenge for me as it wasn’t one of my strongest skill to come up with multiple ideas in a short timeframe. However, it made me realise tight deadlines was an excellent management technique to have creative ideas. Nonetheless, to be able to develop the tools I needed to take a step back and look for inspirations. This needed a combination of graphic design and service design skills to make the tools accessible.

At the end of the week I felt that I am a better tools designer and I now know what precisely to ask our partners during our co-​design workshops to design good engagement tools.