Foregrounding data in co-design – An exploration of how data may become an object of design

Cathrine Seidelin, Yvonne Dittrich, Erik Grönvall

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The rise of Big Data and data science has prompted a focus on data as an essential component of making and innovating data-based services. Traditionally, however, digital data has not been object to co-design as have other physical or functional dimensions of IT application design. This is problematic, because it hinders domain experts who are not IT professionals from taking part in the discussions and design of the data-based services they use and provide. We argue that to address this challenge, it is necessary to empower such domain experts to be able to consider data as an object of design, so they may contribute their expertise to the design of data-based services and their underlying data structures. This paper describes how data may be foregrounded as an explicit element of design that support domain experts’ understanding of data as something that can be designed. We present a detailed interaction analysis of video recordings of three collaborative design workshops, in which we propose a form of data notation and two data representations. We find that data may become an object of design for domain experts when tangible and flexible representations of data are used. Based on our findings, we discuss five lessons learned for foregrounding data in co-design. Together, these provide practical insights for future work.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020


  • Data
  • Data as input for design
  • Data as an object of design
  • Co-design
  • Participatory design


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