Design for Well-Being: An Approach for Understanding Users' Lives in Design for Development

Annemarie Mink

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

4 Citations (Scopus)
686 Downloads (Pure)


Many of the Design for Development outcomes which are unsuited to the users and their environment are based on poorly defined needs and preferences. Product designers are trained to take the user perspective into account, but they are not specifically trained to conduct ethnographic research. Thereby, they have limited time and resources to explore the user context. A systemic approach that efficiently guides designers to develop a social needs inventory would therefore be valuable. An approach that urges designers to move beyond the investigation of product-user interaction and to look comprehensively towards their potential users’ context and their valued beings and doings.

This book is about the development of such an approach. The Capability Driven Design approach guides product designers to conduct rapid, rigorous and comprehensive user context research, specifically in Design for Development projects. By using this approach, designers are guided to make informed design decisions and to improve the
accessibility, applicability, acceptance and adoption of their designs. To develop this approach, analytic guidance was derived from Sen’s ‘Capability Approach’, and practical guidance was derived from the domains of Human-Centred Design, Design for Development and Rapid Ethnography. The Capability Driven Design approach aims to support designers in designing products and / or services that improve the well-being of their users by enabling them to choose the lives that they value.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Kandachar, Prabhu, Supervisor
  • Diehl, J.C., Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date11 Nov 2016
Print ISBNs978-90-6562-397-3
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

This research was made possible by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
(NWO) under grant number 2009/06098


  • Design for Development
  • product design
  • user-centred design
  • user context research
  • rapid ethnography
  • capability approach
  • well-being


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