Five Types of Users

We co-created the resources available on this website in conversation with representatives from the global health community. Five types of users (or profiles) emerged that represent the different stages of a global health practitioner in his/her path towards adoption and implementation of design in his/her work. Scroll down and see which one resonates with you.

“I often fail to see the value design provides to global health projects. I don’t understand how designers who are not experts in our field can contribute to these projects. I want a simple definition of design with no jargon. I’m looking for hard facts that demonstrate design’s impact, its inherent limitations, and its risks.”


“I often don’t understand all these design concept and terms. I sometimes find that designers gloss over what we think is important and then say that we don’t understand design. I hear all the promises of what design can do, then I find they are entirely wrong. I see designers go and do field work, then they come back and tell us things we already knew from the start. What is the point?


  • I need to learn about what design is without the jargon

  • I need to obtain some hard facts about the benefits of using design

  • I need to consider the limitations and implications of using design

the questions I have

I am interested in finding out answers to questions like: “What is design?”, “Why should I care about it?”, “How is design different from other approaches?” , “Who else is using it and how are they using it?”, “What are the risks involved in using it?”, “What am I going to get out of it?”

“I have heard a lot about design, and I am curious to learn about how it can contribute to my projects. However, I have not had a chance to try it out in any of my work and would like to know if and how I can do so. I want resources that help me understand the value of design, how it’s unique, and how it can work with other global health approaches.”

my struggle with design

“The greatest challenge for me is that there is not an easy way that design fits into the project management structures of development programs. It is very hard to create a budget in a detailed work plan, if you don’t know what your intervention is for months. I was unable to understand the original proposal. I had to read it several times. I think people are scared of the timeline.”

my needs

  • I need to appreciate how the application of design to change behavior differs from other approaches that I am familiar with.

  • I need to determine how design complements other approaches and integrates into already structured programs and activities.

  • I need to understand the benefits of using design in global health programs.

    I need to consider the limitations and trade offs when using design in programs.

the questions I have

I am interested in finding answers to questions like, “How do I use design?” , “How do I combine it with what I already do?” , “How have others used it already?” , “What do I look for in a designer?” and “How do I choose to work with one?”

“I have been a part of global health projects where design was used, but I am not sure of the value it ultimately added. How is it different from other participatory approaches? What type of problems can it tackle? I want to see how design can contribute in a consistent, sustainable manner that can be measured in some way.”

my struggle with design

“I think it is easier for me to recognize the impact of design on tangible product-based solutions, than on intangible applications or interventions. I have seen people become very enthusiastic about the use of design, but I wonder what parts of it provide actual impact. How do you measure and evaluate it? I have seen many ways where design was applied, with varying degrees of success. What makes me skeptical is that many people think because they have done it once, they know how to do it in any scenario.”

my needs

  • I need to be exposed to more examples of how design can be applied.

  • I need to have access to resources that can help answer questions on how to make design operational?

  • I need to avoid a design process that has no flexibility.

  • I need to gain a more strategic understanding of design in order to maximize its impact.

the questions I have

Some of the questions I need answers to are, “What is a sustainable model for using design in different interventions?”, “How do you use design in a way that makes it most effective to use in global health programs?”, “How can we gather more evidence on the impact of design?”, “What exactly do I need to say in a terms of reference or a request for proposal if I want to use design?”, and “How do I account for what design might cost?”

“I have seen the value design brings to global health projects and have collaborated with designers, but I struggle to articulate the value of design to others. I want tools and resources that will help me talk about design more effectively.”

my struggle with design

“Initially, it took me time to fully understand what design meant. How can I communicate what design is to others? We need a set of shared and commonly understood terms, so that we are all on the same page. I need to be able to defend a process that does not easily fit into traditional global health thinking and approaches.”

my needs

  • I need to help stakeholders understand what design can offer them.

  • I need to maintain integrity and quality of design-in-use.

  • I need to determine the right type of design, depending on the type of challenge.

  • I need to find out whom to work with, depending on the type of challenge.

  • I need to set up the project with the right conditions for success.

the questions i have

Some of the questions I need answers to are, “How can I articulate the value of design to others clearly?”, “How should I set the expectations for each stage of the design process with all the stakeholders involved?”, “How do I know if the design process is working well or not?”, “How do I set up the project for success?”

“I intimately understand the value design brings to global health projects and I regularly incorporate design into my work. I am comfortable talking about and advocating on behalf of design and hope to see it being used as one of the approaches in more projects. I want to talk about the value of design in a way that global health practitioners can relate to.”

my struggle with design

“Let’s not claim that design can improve a specific amount of lives. We cannot say that. The methods have been fully tried and measured for impact. Personally, I think the limitations are not in design thinking itself, but in people’s understanding of how to use design thinking. As amazing as design thinking is, it take a bit of time, and we are not always afforded that time." That is the reality we operate in.”

my needs

I need to support of learning among the community of practice.

I need to expand the use of design to others in the global health community.

I need to guide stakeholders’ expectations on what design can offer.

I need to maintain integrity and quality of design-in-use.

the questions i have

Some of the questions I have that needs answers to are, “How do I share with others my experiences of applying design?”, “How do I institute design in my organization and beyond?”