Co-design of the Transgender Health Information Resource: Web-Based Participatory Design

J Particip Med. 2023 Jan 10:15:e38078. doi: 10.2196/38078.


Background: There is an urgent and unmet need for accessible and credible health information within the transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) community. Currently, TGD individuals often seek and must find relevant resources by vetting social media posts. A resource that provides accessible and credible health-related resources and content via a mobile phone app may have a positive impact on and support the TGD population.

Objective: COVID-19 stay-at-home orders forced a shift in the methods used in participatory design. In this paper, we aimed to describe the web-based participatory methods used to develop the Transgender Health Information Resource. We also described and characterized the web-based engagement that occurred during a single session of the overall design process.

Methods: We planned and conducted web-based design sessions to replace the proposed in-person sessions. We used web-based collaborative tools, including Zoom (Zoom Video Communications), Mural (Mural), REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture; Vanderbilt University), and Justinmind (Justinmind), to engage the participants in the design process. Zoom was used as an integrated platform for design activities. Mural was used to perform exercises, such as free listing, brainstorming, and grouping. REDCap allowed us to collect survey responses. Justinmind was used to create prototypes that were shared and discussed via Zoom. Recruitment was led by one of our community partners, One Colorado, who used private Facebook groups in which web-based flyers were dispersed. The design process took place in several workshops over a period of 10 months. We described and characterized engagement during a single design session by tracking the number of influential interactions among participants. We defined an influential interaction as communication, either verbal or web-based content manipulation, that advanced the design process.

Results: We presented data from a single design session that lasted 1 hour and 48 minutes and included 4 participants. During the session, there were 301 influential interactions, consisting of 79 verbal comments and 222 web-based content manipulations.

Conclusions: Web-based participatory design can elicit input and decisions from participants to develop a health information resource, such as a mobile app user interface. Overall, participants were highly engaged. This approach maintained the benefits and fidelity of traditional in-person design sessions, mitigated deficits, and exploited the previously unconsidered benefits of web-based methods, such as enhancing the ability to participate for those who live far from academic institutions. The web-based approach to participatory design was an efficient and feasible methodological design approach.

Keywords: app; co-design; gender diverse; health information resource; mobile phone; participatory design; smartphone; transgender; web-based design.