Through a partnership between Hawthorne Community Center and the Herron Visual Communication MFA program, our class was asked to identify ways for improving the efficacy of the community center. To achieve this goal we drew upon participatory design research methodologies in order to understand and assess existing services from the end-user's perspective.
The project developed through 5 phases: Preliminary Research, Framework Development, Research Methodology, Data Analysis and Synthesis, and Solution Development.
To understand the Hawthorne Community Center as a whole, we met and interviewed staff members and program directors, visited and observed the center in use, and collected existing print and web information. With this data we developed a system-level understanding of the community center, the stakeholders involved, and the goals trying to be achieved.
From preliminary research, we identified five main audiences being served: Working Families, Youth, Homeless, English as a Second Language, and Senior Citizens. With this framework, we divided into five small groups in order to conduct focused research in the areas of reliance and empowerment for each targeted audience. Each group then developed and carried out independent research plans, which lead to experience maps, program assessments, and solution proposals.
Results and Outcomes
To present our findings, we designed and produced a comprehensive research document that housed all groups' written proposals, both collectively and individually. This modular design allowed individual program directors to access only the sections that they need, while higher-level funding and administration directors could consider our assessments from a "whole-systems" perspective. While some proposed solutions were implemented at the close of the project, the community center expressed that the insights provided through our research would help to inform the planned redesign of Hawthorne Community Center's new facility and program offerings.