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Peers Observing Peers

Get a glimpse into the community you’re designing for by seeing how they document their own lives.


Suggested Time

2-4 Hours

Level of Difficulty


Materials Needed

Pens, paper, camera, art supplies


Design team, person you’re designing for

Process Phase

You’ll be talking to a lot of people as part of the Inspiration Phase, but learning from the people you’re designing for can also mean empowering them do some of the research themselves and then share back with you. You may also find that social and gender dynamics, or research around a sensitive subject, like sexual health for example, may limit how much the people you’re designing for are willing to tell you. By bringing the people you’re designing for in as partners in your research and giving them the tools to capture their own attitudes, opinions, and hopes, you’ll learn more than you ever could on your own.


  1. There are a number of ways you can get a person you’re designing for to observe and document her peers and community. Start by determining how you want to learn. It could be through Interviews, photos, Collages, Card Sorts, etc. 
  2. Outfit the person you’re designing for with what she’ll need—a camera perhaps, art supplies, a notebook and pen, etc—and take her through the observation and reporting process. 
  3. Offer support throughout the observation and reporting process. Make certain that she knows that there is no right answer and that you only want the honest opinions, hopes, and fears of the people she talks to. 
  4. When she’s done, collect what she’s produced, but also be sure to Interview her about how the process went. You’ll want more than just the facts, so be sure to find out what surprised or inspired her, how her opinions might have changed, and what she learned about her peers.