Designing With Teens

Five approaches I’ve used to unpack tough topics with teenagers

Minnie Bredouw
Oct 3, 2016 · 7 min read

1. Follow Their Lead

What happens when you put young people in the driver’s seat of the conversation, by teaching them the skills to facilitate?

2. Be Vulnerable

It can be easy to unknowingly set up a power dynamic when working with teens, which can hinder openness and authenticity. How can you build trust by being vulnerable yourself?

3. Redefine “Conversation”

A scheduled sit down discussion is rarely the way teens communicate with one another, so why should it be how we interact during design research?

4. Embrace Play

Approaching heavy topics from a light-hearted angle can ease tension and create space for unexpectedly rich conversations. How can playfulness reveal the honest moments that might inspire design?

5. Design With, Not For

What happens if input from teens is everpresent? How can the process of design be a continuous collaboration with young people?


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"It doesn't occur to most people that everything is designed" - Bill Moggridge

Minnie Bredouw

Written by

Product Director at IDEO. Instructor at CCA. Advisor on designing for inclusion, equity, and social impact. Big fan of organizing.

IDEO Stories

"It doesn't occur to most people that everything is designed" - Bill Moggridge