We’re using a design approach to develop the JxD process. Like most design research, the methodology involves phases of contextual research, designing, evaluating, implementation and redesign. It is a practice-led approach to research, which uses design techniques as tools for investigation.

The project began in the second half of 2016 with contextual research into existing design processes and the practices of students. This involved reviewing literature and understanding current approaches to design practice. We also spent time understanding how the then current cohort of Journalism Design students approached the challenge of creating new ideas for journalism and what they found challenging. This involved studying their assessment tasks (design workbooks, design project reports and reflective essays) and conducting interviews.

At the end of the semester we interviewed about 10 students about their experience of designing journalism. We asked about the processes and tools they used and how they accounted for journalistic values. Keep an eye out for future posts on what they told us. For now, the point is that this information, along with what we discovered through desk research, was used to do some designing of our own: it informed our initial design.

The design phase involved plenty of sketching — in notebooks, on paper and on whiteboards. The aim was to come up with a proposed process based on the student work and feedback from interviews. A couple of themes emerged: students were aiming to balance the needs of the user with the needs of professional journalism and they found it challenging to generate ideas. We developed a prototype that balanced practical tasks such as understanding context, considering possibilities and gathering feedback, with more theoretical ideas such as gaining knowledge though design artefacts and reflection.

We put this prototype to the test via a design workshops. The design was given to a group of students, educators and professionals and they were asked to try it out and give us some feedback. Based on their comments we redesigned the process, removing some of the more abstract ideas and changing the shape (watch for a future post on this).

The new design has now been introduced to the next cohort of Journalism Design students. At the end of the semester we’ll again study their artefacts and interviews some about the process and how they accounted for values. Based on what they say, we may have to do some more design work.

When the process is completed we’ll publish the framework and some guidance on how to use it.