Co-design (sometimes known as participatory design) is a design approach that actively involves you as a stakeholder in the 121 & IBF design process. During co-design sessions, we want to hear from you, but also actively involve you and your experience, knowledge & ideas in the design process. We do this in the context of Human Centered Design (HCD).


Co-designing enables you to be part of a diverse group of people making a creative contribution in the formulation and solution of a problem. It helps all of us to understand each other’s needs and the different environments we find ourselves in. It also ensures that the systems we create with you at 510, meets your needs and is also easy to use under difficult & stressful times.


In order for the 510’s products to succeed, it needs to meet your needs as a stakeholder belonging to the following three potential user groups:

1. People Affected (PA)

2. Aid Workers In Field (AW)

3. Aid worker in HQ (AW HQ)

4. People Donating (PD)

This is why we aim to involve all groups equally in the 510 co-design process.


The systems we design for People Affected will need to work whether you are affected by any type of disaster, both natural and man-made, and whether you belong to a highly digitally connected society (familiar with digital solutions), or a society with little to no digital connectivity (unfamiliar with digital solutions) or indeed if you are part of a society who communicates mostly in a spoken only language.


You as an aid worker have in field and HQ insights that update on a regular basis. We co design with you to ensure the wealth of your knowledge & the insights will inform the 510 products to meet your needs and the protocols you use while working for your humanitarian organisation in a particular disaster context.


If you are a local or global donor to projects we co design with you to ensure the things you wish to see about the Humanitarian aid is clear.


Each co-design session is set up in the same way, regardless of which stakeholder group you belong to. This is done to ensure your insights and feedback and those of other stakeholders will weigh equally on the final system design, especially on the functionalities intended for your part of the system. To maintain your privacy, we use responsible methods of capturing the data. This means that no quote can be mapped back to you as an individual. We also state at the beginning of the session that there are no right or wrong answers. We are simply interested in what you think and need, so that we can make the best systems possible.

PART 1: Establishing Your Digital world (10 minutes)

In the first ten minutes of the session, we ask:

“Do you have a digital device/(Smart/function)Phone/ computer/tablet?”
“Do you have access to digital device/(Smart/function)Phone/ computer/tablet?”
“How do you use your/proxy digital device/(Smart/function)Phone/ computer/tablet?”

It will give us more insight in the following aspects:

Digital Literacy (no digital devices/Feature phone/Smartphone/PC/Laptop)
-Digital Familiarity (what are your preferred Apps/Software)
-Social Networks (how & when you use them to connect)
-Information Sources (what do you use and why)

This way, we learn about the (digital) resources and interfaces you access in your day-to-day life, how you use them online and offline and with whom. It is possible that you have little or no digital tools at your disposal, which means that the 121 system also has to respond to this too. By understanding what you use, and why you use it, we also understand your digital literacy/familiarity/Preferences.

PART 2: Establishing your experience with aid (10 minutes)

You have joined the co-design session because you have received, given/responded, or donated to aid in the past. This is why we ask you:

“Can you tell us about the time before, during and after your particular touchpoint with aid?”

This question allows you to reflect on your experience, giving you the time to describe how you transitioned across the aid cycle. For the designer working with you, it gives direct insight into the experiences of the different potential user groups of 121. This allows them to understand the multiple-user journey and varying touchpoints that exist both off- and online.

This part of the session also ensures that you, as a co-designer, are primed for the last part of the session.

PART 3: Establishing solutions (40 minutes)

In this section, we give you as the co-designer three pieces of card. We refer to the experience with aid that you just shared, and then ask you:

“If anything was possible, what could you create that could have helped you before, during or after your touchpoint?”

The goal of this part is not to have a perfect design, but rather to hear about what you see as functions needed for your design. When you create something, we will often ask you why you need it. This way, we can also understand the rationale behind your needs. You may think of many things, or you may just think of a few specific things. Regardless of what you create, it will be valuable to 121. It means we can bring it together as real insights and real needs that will bring 121 forward.


After the co-design sessions, we will cluster your quotes in multiple ways to establish common needs and themes. These themes are then used to create and, as an iterative process, update the latest 121 system.


Every disaster brings its unique set of challenges. Although it is nearly impossible to design for all situations, it is possible to find out together what the base commonalities are. Since 2018, we have co-designed at 5 different locations either remotely or in country for 510’s IBF work and 121 system with all above named stakeholder groups. The implementation of these designs into products is an iterative and ongoing process.


  • SEP 18: St.Maarten: Co-Design with people affected who received aid
  • SEP 18: St.Maarten: Co-Design with field workers who gave aid
  • OCT 18: Ukraine: Co-Design with people affected who received aid
  • OCT 18: Ukraine: Co-Design with field workers who gave aid
  • NOV 18: St.Maarten: Wireframe Testing with people affected who received aid
  • DEC 18:Ukraine: Prototype User Testing with people affected who received aid
  • NOV 18 : Netherlands: Co-Design with people affected who received aid
  • MAR 19: Malawi: Co-Design with people affected who received aid
  • JUN 19: Ethiopia: Co-Design with people affected who received aid
  • JUL 16: Kenya: Co-Design with people affected who received aid
  • MAR 19: Zambia: Remote Co-Design with aid workers
  • SEP 19: Uganda: Remote Co-Design with aid workers
  • 510 fbf Dashboard & 121, More National Societies planned!

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