What Is Design?

Design is a craft and a discipline that applies a specific mindset and skillset to a creative problem solving process. Doing so, leads to the development of informed, inclusive, purposeful, compelling, and innovative solutions.

Graphic of mindset built on process, built on skillset steps

Applying Design Thinking to Global Health

Design can be applied to the development of products, services, processes, messages, digital experiences, and environments. Design can link each of these elements into a cohesive and meaningful experience, particularly in the context of fragmented health systems. While designers have contributed to health interventions in all of these areas, design as a process, is broader than a single application. Design alone is alone is also not enough.  It is also not always the right approach for every challenge. Complex health challenges require a multidisciplinary set of approaches and expertise. In this context, design can often be an effective complementary approach. Design can help bring diverse disciplines together in a collaborative manner to unlock new opportunities for positive change in health systems. Through a creative, effective and rigorous process, design brings people's needs to the forefront and shapes interventions meant to bring positive changes in their lives.

We embrace a broad definition of design, one that includes terms like human-centered design, service design, design thinking, and systems design.

Common Misconceptions about Design

  • Design is about making things look pretty
  • Design is only valuable when applied to end-users and beneficiaries
  • Design is only relevant when developing products and services
  • Design insights are only useful to address demand-side challenges