Few problems fall solely into one design discipline’s skillset. The lines between them are blurry. For example, even a basic user interface problem has elements of communication design and experience design. Most designers are comfortable in more than just one area. Just like medical doctors, designers tend to go through some common training (like visual thinking for example), then they hone their skills further and specialise in certain areas over others.

Since you have selected Interactions & Experiences, here is some further information on the design skillsets that may be needed in this category.

Service design involves the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communications, and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between providers and customers. Service design emerged out of the private sector with a strong focus on service industries such as hospitality and health. Service design gained widespread adoption in the UK, for example, where it was applied to make the delivery of the national healthcare more user friendly at each touchpoint.

User experience design (UX, UXD, UED or XD) design is the practice of designing products, processes, services, events, and environments with a focus on the quality of the user's experience, particularly the level of engagement and satisfaction that the user derives from a product or service while it addresses their needs and context. User Experience design can help provide global health practitioners with a holistic picture of user needs across a range of different touchpoints. It is an approach that helps reveal key gaps in quality service delivery that might otherwise fall through the cracks between different actors within the health system.

Web or digital design encompasses many different skills and disciplines in the production and maintenance of websites. The different areas of web design include web graphic design; user interface design (UI design); authoring, including standardised code and proprietary software; user experience design (UX design); and search engine optimization. Often many individuals will work in teams covering different aspects of the design process, although some designers will cover them all.

Common outputs or deliverables

Tips and tricks

  • Most designers can be flexible and adapt their skills, however, it is still worth asking for examples where they have done this before.
  • When designing your investment you will want to ensure that your design partner has capabilities in these areas. However, perhaps not all these designers need to be fully present for the whole project, and you can work with your partner to ensure greater fluidity in the team.
  • The investment can benefit from thinking ahead of time about how to more deeply understand all the touchpoints that a user (this could be a beneficiary or provider) will have with a service, and what are the challenges that present at each touchpoint. It will involve breaking down health services that we often take for granted to really understand where things need to change/be improved.
  • Designing health services means engaging with behavior for all of the potential users (this could be a beneficiary or provider). You may want to consider the role that your partner brings in terms of understanding behavior and their experience weaving the social and behavioral sciences into the work.


  • Beware of proposals that are overly repetitive in the use of buzzwords and lack specific examples that demonstrate the relevant skillsets from what you need.

Questions for potential partners

  • Can you talk me through the project steps and explain how you will make decisions around bringing in the right expertise at the appropriate times?
  • Do you have all these design capabilities in house, or will you need to in some specific types of expertise?
  • Given that there needs to be uptake and integration into existing processes of new services, what kinds of experiences have you had working with implementing partners, government partners, or any other large entities engaged in such service innovation?
  • As you talk about the need to break down a service into various touchpoints and really understand the user experience along the way, I get a sense that this is a complex process that may take some time. How do you bring your clients along in this process? Are you able to provide learnings along the way to keep them engaged?
  • As I learn more about design, I might have been tempted to think of website design almost like product design. You talk about it more in terms of the user experience and the service that a website provides? Can you help me understand why this framing is important?

Resources and links