User Experience Design (or UX Design) is a contemporary discipline that has emerged over the last decade or so, and normally applies to the digital design world. Websites. Apps. Digital interfaces. It advocates user-centred design thinking to create great digital experiences by considering the end user at every stage of the design process.  This enables quick, responsive design development that generates the most robust, appropriate and user-validated design solutions. 

At HERE + NOW we want to apply the best practice and lessons learned from this innovative, contemporary, fast-evolving, agile and iterative user-centred design process from the parallel design industry of UX Design to the world of landscape architecture and place-making.  

Traditionally, built environment disciplines, operating in the physical rather than digital realm, have longer delivery time lines, greater overall cost due to requiring construction in the physical world, are resource intensive, and create places whose design is harder to adapt or change once built if something isn’t quite working.  End-user feedback via post-build evaluation methods of these places once constructed is rarely done, and if done is too late to act upon. This makes it easy for average or poor design solutions to continue, based on assumptions about how that place should function for the people that will use it.  Whilst some community engagement may be conducted, and is increasingly being used through landscape architecture and design, this is often only at one or two points in the design process and limited in its approach.

Surely this is an industry that would benefit hugely from more user-centred processes that enable earlier identification of potential end-user problems, help build ownership of a place through engagement and co-design with local people, help identify and avoid bad design ‘solutions’ before the expense and resources are used on building them (or help find alternative ‘softer’ solutions that would work to generate the same outcome), and thereby create places that people actively will enjoy being as end-users?

We think so!  That’s why at HERE + NOW we base our approach on a combination of engagement, design and curation to enable an iterative people-focussed process that enables the designers and local people to work in partnership together to create great places.

UX Design for Placemaking