CoDICE, using software tools to support co-design activities

The meSch project is grounded on principles of co-design: the participation of designers, developers and cultural heritage professionals into the process of creation and evaluation as equal partners. In order to sustain these co-design activities, the UC3M team is developing a software kit called CoDICE, (COdesigning DIgital Cultural Encounters) to share the design outcomes and elaborate them further to support iterative and evolving co-design cycles. This post is an introduction to CoDICE.

The scenario: Understanding and reusing the outcomes of the design workshops

Designers rarely frame the problem properly and find the best solution in just one session, so co-design expands over time in different collocated or distributed sessions. Each session generates a number of outcomes that describe creative ideas using different media, including lists of features, performances of scenarios of use, crafted prototypes, personas, etc. Part of this material is further elaborated to co-create a final product, in other cases ideas are abandoned or relegated in favor of more promising options. This is the approach we have followed in the meSch project to envision the smart objects that will enlarge the visitors experience, a complex task that need many co-design workshops to be run to understand what, how, when and why objects have to be digitally augmented.

The outcomes of the co-design workshops include physical materials that deteriorate over time (see the left picture in the figure below) and digital materials such as video-recorded description of scenarios (see the right picture below). Outcomes are usually related or reused in other co-design activities, for instance when designer envision scenarios of use for previously identified personas.

 codice1  codice2

The scenario: examples of outcomes from co-design workshops

CoDICE is aimed at bridging the gap between design thinking and software engineering. On the one side it offers the means to collect in a meaninfgul way the design thinking outcomes and, conversely, it broads up the scope of software engineering by recognizing the value of the ideation phase, previous to the elicitation of requirements.


CoDICE proposes a software tool aimed at respecting the co-design process whilst supporting some software engineering practices to facilitate revisiting ideas once the co-located workshops have finished.  Five design principles based on design thinking and software engineering practices are assumed:

  • Design is divergent and convergent
  • Design happens in different spaces and at different paces
  • Richness of expression encourages all kinds of participants to externalize their ideas
  • All the outcomes of the design process should be considered in a persistent and meaningful way
  • The process has to be traceable to understand the rationale behind the design decisions.


CoDICE is based on a Distributed User Interface offering two clients: CoDICE mobile and CoDICE desktop.

  • CoDICE-mobile is an application envisioned to support situated resources gathering. Whilst visiting a specific cultural heritage site, co-designers can look for inspirational objects and capture pictures, videos or notes that could be used to feed their ideas afterwards.
  • CoDICE-desktop is a web application that provides two working spaces: Divergent enquiry and ideation that supports co-designers in sharing and discussing the ideas generated during the co-design workshops; and Convergent design that represents the evolution from ideas towards concepts that are likely to be implemented.

CoDICE architecture

Next image illustrates a a visual journey trough CoDICE based on the co-design workshop held on the 25th of April 2013 in Centro de Arte 2 de Mayo organised by the UC3M team. The workshop was previously introduced in another meSch blogpost. When the co-design workshop took place no prototype of CoDICE was available, so this section reproduces how the infomation collected during this activity was uploaded and elaborated into CoDICE to provide feedback and design rationale for the ongoing design work on meSch prototypes.

CoDICE storyboard

Storyboard of a co-design workshop using CoDICE

Based on: Paloma Díaz, Ignacio Aedo, Jaime Cubas: CoDICE: balancing software engineering and creativity in the co-design of digital encounters with cultural heritage. AVI 2014: 253-256

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