Developing meaningful communication with a youth audience through co-design: the case of youth in Cape Town, South Africa

Published: 30 January 2019| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/cpc43d2pny.1
Liz de Villiers,


The youth faces unique challenges due to constant movement within the global economic and technological contexts. A digitally oversaturated world with constant access to globalised, mass information makes it challenging for communication designers to reach this audience on important matters. The South African context further complicates matters as youth unemployment is at an all-time high, a lack of quality schooling continues to feed poverty and inequality, exposure to gangs, violence, trauma and sexual abuse contribute to antisocial behaviour and drug and alcohol abuse increase risky sexual behaviour. It is therefore important to connect with the youth on these matters. The need to explore the mechanisms and content which will successfully connect with a South African youth audience was identified. In response to this, this study explored what the youth considers to be meaningful communication. The main objective of this research was to explore what types of visual communication have meaning for the youth to enable communication designers to connect with the South African youth market. The study used case study methodology and data was collected qualitatively through a questionnaire and participatory methods, including two co-design workshops (with 20 participants, aged 20-27) and a small group discussion (with 5 participants). The study featured a co-design approach, which focused on collaborative meaning-making through the visualisation of communication pieces. The study identified several interconnected themes which relate to a bigger category of association. Three major categories of understanding were identified: perception (how the youth see their world); engagement (how the youth experience their world); and relevance (how the youth relate to their world). These themes provide visual communication designers with valuable insights relating to the youth audience.



Cape Peninsula University of Technology


Image Visualization, Youth, South Africa, Advertising Communication, Visual Communication, Graphic Design, Co-Creation