Ideo states that human centred design (HCD) “sits at the intersection of empathy and creativity.” It is a design and management framework that develops solutions to problems by involving the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process.

Utilised in multiple fields, including sociological sciences and technology, HCD has been noted for its ability to consider human dignity, access, and ability roles when developing solutions. [Buchanan, R. (2001). This approach enhances effectiveness and efficiency, improves human well-being, user satisfaction, accessibility and sustainability;  ISO 9241-210:2010(E)


Creating scientifically sound and data driven methods & products to help improve humanitarian aid is very important, ensuring people trust and use them with ease is just as important.

When we started with 510 we began with a data-driven approach, as we have evolved we have started to introduce HCD into the digital creation process.

Using a human-centered approach to design and development has substantial social and economic benefits for people affected, aid workers and inter-sectorial cooperation. Highly usable systems and products tend to be more successful both technically (feasibility) and inter-sectoral (viability) when all users can understand and use products without additional assistance. Systems designed using HCD methods improve quality, for example, by:

  • Improved user experience reducing discomfort and stress;
  • Increased usability for people with a wider range of capabilities, thus increasing accessibility;
  • Increased productivity of all users and the operational efficiency of organisations;
  • Easy to understand and use, thus reducing training and support costs;
  • Contribute towards scalability objectives


By integrating HCD we bring the three tracks of Desirability, Viability and Feasibility into 510’s products.

Desirability: The needs of people (People affected by disasters /Crises,  Aid workers in office & field)

Feasibility: The possibilities of technology (within the Humanitarian landscape)

Viability: The requirements for success (within the Humanitarian landscape)

The traditional five-step design thinking process; Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test, can be mapped against these three tracks. In order to create a successful product, we document the results using an iterative process. We break this process in to sprints to make the goals manageable.

Desirability, in Design Thinking known as Empathise: We empathise when co-designing with our users. We see this as the best way to understand the problem we are trying to solve together. To ensure we don’t design from assumptions, we cluster quotes, insights and input from the co-design sessions created by and with end users.

These insights are used to populate a “Humanitarian Proposition”. We take the humanitarian proposition and place it into the “Humanitarian Canvas”, to ensure we always have the people at the centre of technological decisions.

Left “Humanitarian Proposition” right “Humanitarian Canvas” Strategyzer methods adapted for humanitarian context.

Viability, in Design Thinking known as Define: As this is an iterative process, per project we have different “problems” to solve. We identify the problems that we can solve during by using the insights collected in the co-design sessions, populating the “Humanitarian Environment map” and Humanitarian Canvas with the help of a contextual PEST analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological).

“Humanitarian Environment map”  Strategyzer methods adapted for humanitarian context.

Feasibility I, in Design Thinking known as Ideate: In order to build a prototype, we need to understand what is feasible and hold this against the identified user problems. We choose this iterative process because we will never be able to solve all problems identified at once, this way we can test every iteration and keep building as we move towards the actual product. By placing the already assumed software requirements next to the co-design results, we are able to create real solutions. Here we iterate between a general ad-lib, Humanitarian Canvas and Environment map and those contextual for the iteration.


“Adlib”  Strategyzer methods adapted for humanitarian context as GOAL SHEET.

Feasibility II, in Design Thinking known as Prototyping: These possible solutions are turned into “Mockup Wireframes” to sketch a rough version of possible interactions.  We then create activity diagrams that can be used as a base to create code for a working prototype to test. In Design Thinking known as Testing: These prototypes are user tested in the same Co-design locations  we use the new insights to create the next iteration.


  • SEP 18: St.Maarten: Co-Design with people affected who received aid
  • SEP 18: St.Maarten: Co-Design with field workers who gave aid
  • OCT 18: Ukraine: Co-Design with people affected who received aid
  • OCT 18: Ukraine: Co-Design with field workers who gave aid
  • NOV 18: St.Maarten: Wireframe Testing with people affected who received aid
  • DEC 18:Ukraine: Prototype User Testing with people affected who received aid
  • NOV 18 : Netherlands: Co-Design with people affected who received aid
  • MAR 19: Malawi: Co-Design with people affected who received aid
  • JUN 19: Ethiopia: Co-Design with people affected who received aid
  • JUL 16: Kenya: Co-Design with people affected who received aid
  • MAR 19: Zambia: Remote Co-Design with aid workers
  • SEP: Uganda: Remote Co-Design with aid workers
  • 510 fbf Dashboard & 121, More National Societies planned!

We started integrating HCD in September 2018 for 121 by Co designing with the Local St.Maarten Branch and their volunteers and people affected.


So far we have co- designed with St.Maarten Red Cross, Dorcas, Red Een Kind, Zambian Red Cross, Malawi Red Cross, Ethiopian Red Cross, Kenyan Red Cross & The Netherlands Red Cross, Ugandan Red Cross.


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