Characters as agents for the co-design process

Catherine Grundy, Lyn Pemberton, Richard Morris

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


This paper describes a proposed new method for helping to understand the emotional requirements of children during the conceptual phase of designing an interface. The approach may be particularly useful where the feelings of the child are critical, but are difficult to investigate; for example when the issues are sensitive and may provoke emotional responses. Here we explore an approach that draws on the social agency that characters can provide to help the young user articulate their opinion. Children were asked to create fictitious cartoon ‘personalities’ that have desired attributes, personal qualities and behaviors that are relevant to a given scenario. Subsequently this influenced the conceptualization of a product under development for the context defined. The devices were being developed for final major projects across both the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex Product Design departments. Character design was found to be an engaging activity for the children, with a tangible outcome that can facilitate communication between the designer and pupil. It also provides a relatively sensitive method for getting information about the youngster’s feelings through the dialogue that took place. This forms part of a larger study for a PhD thesis based on designing for children’s emotional needs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 11th international conference on interaction design and children
Place of PublicationNew York, USA
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)9781450310079
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2012
EventProceedings of the 11th international conference on interaction design and children - University of Bremen, Germany, 12-15 June, 2012
Duration: 12 Jun 2012 → …


ConferenceProceedings of the 11th international conference on interaction design and children
Period12/06/12 → …

Bibliographical note

© 2012 ACM


  • Co-Design
  • Design for Children
  • Character Design


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