Online Deliberative Engagement Method and Tool (Vizzata)






A method, and supporting online tool, that seeks to engage people in a way that approximates everyday processes of attending to, seeking, and making sense of information.  The tool allows researchers to test text, images, audio or video content and identify the key characteristics of participants' sense making.

The method and tool has been developed in a partnership between the University of Surrey, Brunel University, web software developers White October and the consultancy Brook Lyndhurst.

A prototype tool was built and tested under a Wellcome Trust funded proof-of-concept project, and a production-ready version later created under an FP7 research project which is now being made available for general use.



  • Uniquely it provides a forum that encourages and values the questions that people want to ask
  • It is particularly useful for those that are more reticent in expressing their views.
  • Provides excellent insight into which sections of content participants are more attentive to
  • Evidence suggests that participants enjoy using it
  • User-friendly administration area allows researchers to quickly and easily build their own studies


  • Making sense of information seeking - offers a unique opportunity for researchers interested in information seeking and sense-making processes.
  • Deliberative research - the tool enables a structured two-way dialogue broken into multiple exchanges, centred around participants' questions and their evaluation of subsequent responses.
  • Deliberative exercises - the tool can be used to present content and facilitate deliberation in policy and practice environments while designing and managing change.
  • Communication testing - the tool can be used to test and refine communications to ensure that they are attuned to their target audience.
  • Crisis management - the tool can be deployed in a crisis scenario to quickly test and modify communications from government agencies or industry bodies to ensure messages are clearly comprehended by the population.


Available for licence


Properties of the Method

  • Elicit questions about specific sections of the content you are testing
  • Measure attentiveness to key terms in the text
  • Enable people to engage with information on their terms
  • Facilitate the expression of questions people have
  • Measure what information people attend to and link this with the views that they express
  • Provide personalised responses to individuals' questions and measure changes in attitude or views



For more information on the project please visit

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Averil Horton
Commercialisation - Brunel University
University of Surrey
Richard Shepherd
Chris FifE-Schaw
Jon Fletcher
Julie Barnett
Behavioural Research
Online Survey
Public Perception
Risk Communication
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