Izmir University of Economics (TURKEY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 1927-1936
ISBN: 978-84-09-37758-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2022.0566
Conference name: 16th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-8 March, 2022
Location: Online Conference
User-centered design (UCD) is defined as an exploratory design approach where the focus is on the users and their needs starting from the initial stage to the end of the design process. It requires a clear description of the brief, the users, and the requirements. The feedback of the users is then incorporated within the stages in order to improve the design to better fit the users’ desires. UCD is often criticized as it may appear to be time consuming and expensive, however, the rapid testing and validation is helpful in creativity that would not have been able to be reached otherwise, as well as the rapid progress of the design. UCD is often considered within the industrial design field; however, its concepts may be applied to design at all scales.

In a playground, children need a wide range of moving equipment to create model circumstances and simulate reality through experimentation and planning. With user-centered approaches, playgrounds can be informative, educational, and enjoyable for children inviting children to play outside rather than at home. A supportive setting will help build a community and enhance movement and healthy habits. Today, as a result of urbanization, most natural playgrounds for children have decreased in number and quality. Due to this and the recent ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, children have turned to computers and television in their homes. They can only play with their toys at home. However, according to child psychologists and doctors, a sedentary lifestyle due to games played in enclosed spaces negatively affect the mental, physical, and social development of children. One of the most important factors in children's playgrounds is the location. Playgrounds need to be in areas where children can reach without danger in a short time, and an example may be school parks. Schools have an important role in ensuring the required minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity during the day, helping them to become healthier and stronger through play, also supporting their intelligence, classroom performance, cognitive development, and social skills. The paper explains UCD principles applied to a playground with the quest to create more educational children’s environments that are in keeping with their wishes. Both UCD principles and playgrounds are discussed with their significance in creating spaces supporting education. Children and adults were observed; with a focus on the experiences of children, and the designs of various playgrounds were also examined by marking their use of the playground environment on behavioral maps in a playground in Izmir, Turkey. The observation was followed with interviews asking about educational qualities of playground design. Findings revealed creative responses as well as enthusiasm about the development of playgrounds with a potential to be useful for researchers, designers, and educators. Design guidelines were created using the findings to enhance playgrounds’ role as safe educational environments in which exploration can take place.
User Centered Design, playgrounds, child development, playground design.