co-design meeting in Pontefract (8th August, 2016)

In relation to the event in York on 3rd July, it was commented that it was a valuable session that fleshed out what we want and what’s possible – Meghan’s input was useful.

With regard to audiences, it was pointed out that there may be differences between groups. Pontefract Civic Society see it as an opportunity to promote Pontefract and what it has to offer. Pontefract already have a web-presence. A lot of effort is about setting Pontefract in a good light and providing information.

The group also wants to create links more broadly, connect and learn from others. I pointed out that I hope this will be achieved through the co-design process as much as the co-designed products.


In going over design brief it was pointed out that analytical back-end can be facilitated through search function.

We ended up spending some time discussing the purpose of the platform and the idea of iterative adaptive design. Are we looking to design a good virtual experience, or are we also interested in how the design impacts place-based experiences – actual interactions with heritage as opposed to virtual representations of it. I had been so stuck on creating a pleasing virtual experience in order to encourage users to dwell and make their own contributions that I had lost sight of the idea that the platform should facilitate changing perspectives, attitudes and thereby relationships and behaviour with heritage. This should not be seen as simply a platform to document emotional responses to heritage, but also to impact emotional responses. So we must design the platform to impact both virtual and physical experiences and have feedback loops from both. As much as I like to think I’m an interdisciplinary thinker, this highlighted how stuck I am on a narrower definition of caring for heritage of decision-making and interventions – but caring for heritage must include encouraging use and developing connections between people and heritage.

The issue of sustainability was also raised. Sustainability does not come from having a website – so how does this design contribute to sustainability exactly? Well, I certainly hope it does contribute, but not on its own, no.

How do we know that we have attracted younger people? Do they give age in registration? If this is an aim for the design and for the larger project the surely we should make sure we can measure it?

Talking about platform names – it was suggested heritage must be in the title. We must be careful not to use something that already exists.

Users should be allowed to curate their feed by choosing places, categories etc. that are important to them. They control content on their profile page, but should also be able to filter content in their feed.

For design, it was emphasised that it must be simple and uncluttered – not too busy. Different kinds of heritage are so different. Do we need different pages for different types of heritage? Flexible – different individuals must be able to create different things on the site. I responded that while I think I sometimes gloss over differences between types of heritage, this tool is about highlighting why things are as important, not to document and digitise heritage. There is a big difference between the technical documentation of an archaeological site or historic building and the documentation of why people think it is important. Oral history came up again, and is clearly something worth looking at in the future, but I think tying it to what we are designing now is complicated. This is because its relationship to heritage is not clear cut. Oral history can both be heritage and can talk about heritage.

It was suggested that a map with a zoom feature could be a simple way of letting users navigate posts. The platform must both be simple to inexperienced users and satisfying to advanced users.

The use of a 4-divided screen was suggested. I think this could work really well as a landing page that gives an overview of what the platform does.  

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