Getting the most out of design

Global health practitioners have needs and questions as they learn how design can apply to their work. We collaborated with a representative cross-section of the global health community to identify and prioritize opportunities to support global health practitioners on their path towards the adoption and use of design in their work—from initial exposure to design, to appropriately and confidently using it to increase their impact. View the “Our Process and Audience” section to learn how we applied the design process on ourselves to develop this journey.




Needs and questions along global health practitioners’ path towards effective adoption and use of design



To create an initial set of resources to meet these needs and questions, we first interviewed global health practitioners to develop user profiles. Each of these profiles pointed to opportunities that we could explore. Then, together with a  board of advisors and a representative cross-section of the global health community, we evaluated these profiles and opportunities to co-create a set of resources.




To raise awareness about what design is, its benefits, and its limitations for global health


To support decisions on how to integrate design, what kind of design to use, and who to work with


To establish the right conditions for the successful application of design


To guide expectations and maintain the quality and integrity of design


To support a culture of learning and evidence building among the community of practice



What is design?

Why should I care about design?

What benefits does it offer?

What are its limitations?

How is it different?

How do I use design?

How do I integrate design with what I already do?

How have others used it already?

What are my options?

What are the risks involved in using it?

What am I specifically going to get out of using design?

Who can I work with?

What do I look for and how do I assess whom to work with?

How do I create the conditions for success?

What other types of disciplines and methodologies does design work well with?

What do I put in the RFP / TOR / contract?

How do I plan and account for what design might cost?


How will design work in each stage of the project?

What outputs / outcomes should I expect at each stage?

How do I know if design is working well or not?

How do I share my learnings with others?

How do I contribute to the evidence base for design?

How do I institutionalize design in my organization and beyond?



We have developed an initial set of resources to support global health practitioners along their design path.

The diagram below maps these resources against this path.



Resources at a glance


1. What is Design for Health?

This primer aims to support global health practitioners who are trying to better understand how to engage design in their work. It provides information about the different design specialties and outlines the value each of them brings to the global heath process and to addressing global health challenges.

2. Glossary of Design Terms

Design terms can seem like jargon to non-designers, which can lead to miscommunication. This resource helps clarify the meanings of common design terms through definitions and examples.

3. Common Principles of
Design & Global Health

The Common Principles of Design & Global Health attempts to build a shared understanding, language, and sense of purpose between designers and global health practitioners. This set of simple statements, some more aspirational than others, demonstrates the alignment and commitment by designers to longstanding global health principles and values. This resource outlines a code of practice for design in global health and supports a stronger foundation for collaboration.

4. Value of Design

This resource helps articulate the benefits that design skills and mindsets can bring to global health projects. A curated set of statements connects the benefits of design to key challenges facing the global health community.


5. Project Library

This project database is meant to share knowledge and learnings from the application of design across a diverse range of global health projects. These examples can support the integration of design in future global health projects.

6. Complementary Approaches

Design is just one approach that can contribute to addressing global health challenges. Like any other approach, its benefits are amplified through collaboration. This resource provides a snapshot of different approaches and how they can complement one another when used together in global health projects.

7. Conversation Guide

This Conversation Guide provides design pioneers and design advocates in the global health community with credible, relatable, and concrete talking points that address the questions and concerns of others in the community who might be reluctant, curious, or enthusiastic about using design in their work. While this guide has been developed from the point of view of a design pioneer, it can be used by anyone advocating on behalf of design in the global health community.


Download all the resources here: