Over kinderen, hun psychische problemen, hun ouders en hun behandelaars.

OPEN: Telling us what they didn’t know that they knew

You can’t design a system if you don’t know what it’s going to contain. So our first design research activity for OPEN was aimed at uncovering the shape that potentially valuable messages for parents and other ‘experience experts’ might take.

Dit is de tweede post van James Boekbinder over de ontwikkeling van OPEN. U kunt ook zijn eerdere bijdrage lezen.

Together with project manager Marieke Verhave and visualizer Zhenya Pashkina, we created a design research activity we called ‘contextual situational inquiry’. It’s fundamentally a projective exercise, but with the aim of discovery, not diagnostics.

Designing the research activity

After a briefing by Marieke about the work with previous experience experts, Zhenya and I created a series of 12 projective storytelling cards. They represented everyday situations which we felt were certain to correspond to the situations, objects and experiences encountered by the parents and others. We hoped they would jog memories and emotions and get them talking (you can view an example, together with visual design rationale). We had two goals:

  • to find out if showing situations would increase the probability of contribution of relevant insights
  • to find out what form the contribution might take (400-word story? Pictures? Sequential or not? Random, or part of a structured dialogue?)
Rich results

James-Boekbinder-OPEN-tools-for-discovery-and-re-framingThe first session was done with a group mainly consisting of parents of children with disorders. In a two-hour session, we showed the cards and asked:

  • Are there situations which this picture reminds you of?
  • Can you tell us about it in more detail?
  • If you could tell professionals about this situation – what would you tell them?
  • What might stop – or encourage you to tell this?
  • What would you expect to happen, or change, based on your report of the situation?

I say ‘asked’, but as soon as we showed the first card, three respondents offered three different stories. More than an hour later, we were still listening to discussion about that first card. The results were amazingly rich. We collected six situations, ranging from the diagnostic process, to discussions with kids at home about school-related and other situations and problems. The session produced 14 insights which are potentially useful for the professionals making treatment protocols. And 5 statements about expectations which can be translated into goals for treatment.

Moving the experience online

The challenge now is for the design team to ‘migrate’ this experience into a series of online tools. Together with our partners at YipYip, we’ll put together working mockups of the system, based on scenarios derived from our research. The translation into online tools has begun – watch this space!

James Boekbinder Over James Boekbinder

interaction designer | filmmaker | self-educated system thinker | first US citizen on the payroll of Lenfilm | researcher | in love with partner from Russia | content strategist | in love with Amsterdam | educator of young designers at Rotterdam University of Applied Science | in love with cat from Greece


  1. @tijs71#jeugdggzouders Tweets en blogs van ouders zijn voor ons zeer relevant: ouders weten wat profs niet weten http://t.co/W1eYBViwq7

  2. Andere tijden, nieuwe inzichten. OPEN: Telling us what they didn’t know that they knew http://t.co/qxXu3FSkG6 #jggz

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