Research Guide

A project that forms and designs the guide at
Public Digital Innovation Space.


Collaboration Research Guide navigates civil servants to have a deeper understanding of purposes, components and procedure of conducting user research.

Project Partner: Public Digital Innovation Space (PDIS)
PDIS, an organization under the government of Taiwan, is devoted to creating a space for the public to have a say in the government decision making process and to meet the needs of digital government transition.

Primary users: Participation Officers (POs)
Participation Officers are civil servants and their primary responsibilities are proposing discussions of cross-ministerial issues with wider stakeholders, and collaborating about solutions.

Project overview: PDIS and POs focus on facilitating collaboration workshops to bring the public to express their needs and thoughts. These workshops are one kind of user research. However, there are different formats and methodologies of user research, and civil servants need to understand that and have the ability to choose the best type of user research based on social issues. Therefore, I took part in writing the user research guide as a foundation for bringing diverse user research approaches into the government of Taiwan.

Timeline: 3 weeks, Oct 2018

My role: Researcher, content editor, and workshop facilitator.

Goals of my practice:

  • Use service design knowledge to help PDIS educate civil servants to use a design mindset to facilitate civil discussion and tackle social problems.
  • Establish diverse user research approaches in the Government of Taiwan.


“Participation Officers need a simple way to gain comprehensive knowledge about user research in the government.”


A workshop turns my writing into a fairy tale and replaces design-driven words.

Workshop overview

I was not allowed to advocate service design and needed to avoid using design-driven terminology in the guide because the political environment is not ready to embrace service design. In order to overcome the challenge, I lead an “undesign” workshop with my classmates at Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECUAD). There are two activities in the workshop: a fairy tale challenge and a practice of replacing words.

First activity- Fairy tale challenge

I divided the user research guide into five sections: purpose of collaboration, planning for collaboration, recruitment, prototyping and testing, and sharing findings. I proposed a personality for each section and added a representative food. My design peers were separated into five groups. Each group was challenged to write and illustrate a fairy tale to interpret key points of their section.

Second activity- Practice of replacing words

In this 15 minute activity, peers needed to pick up the overly design-driven terminology in my writing, and replace it with understandable words for non-designers.

Workshop conclusion

After the workshop, I named the user research guide “collaboration research guide” to fit into the existing naming conventions at PDIS. Moreover, I noticed that my practice needs to include contributing to changing behavior and culture by embedding design thinking into civil servants' day to day practice and designing toolkits to illustrate how to practice design methodologies in the government. These kind of changes cannot happen overnight.


Most recent prototype


Physical publication

  • Prototypes of handout and deck of cards
  • Collaboration research guide here
  • With visual examples

Digital presentation

  • Includes the possible procedure, limitation of the method, when the method can be used, benefits of the method, and case studies


Gardening could be a metaphor for the Collaboration Research Guide and PDIS practices because building design culture takes time and patience. We cannot force the pace of growth to fast and need to spend time bringing people on the same page. Service designers are farmers; POs are the seeds; design toolkits are equipment, water, soil and sunlight. That is, the service designer plants the POs into each ministry and then gradually cultivates them using design toolkits. Moreover, I realized that as service designers in the public sector, we need to be conscious about not being too rushed and pushing the pace of growth immediately.