Human-Centered Design in Action: #LearnHCD Case Studies 3 & 4 From the Field

Alexandra Nemeth

Senior Manager, Content Marketing & Storytelling at MovingWorlds

If you’re interested in learning more about how to use human-centered design (HCD) to create, grow, and/or scale ideas that make the world better, then this series is for you. We kicked off our #LearnHCD series with an introduction to human-centered design along with top resources and methods to help you master the HCD process.

Now, to help you take these concepts from behind your desk and into the real world, we’ve turned to our experteering alumni community to see how they translated HCD into their in-the-field projects. You can find the first two case studies here, and two more examples of HCD in action below: 

Case Study #3: Beatriz & Pratthanadee Foundation

Case Study #4: Lynn & WeDuShare

HCD Case Study #3: Beatriz & Pratthanadee Foundation


Beatriz Ayala experteered her marketing & branding skills with Pratthanadee Foundation, a nonprofit in Thailand providing training, mentoring, and career guidance to economically disadvantaged women and girls. 

The Pratthanadee Foundation creates impact through its program in Bangkok, Thailand, and the surrounding rural areas. It achieves this by helping participants:

  • Develop vital skills, covering topics such as Self-Assessment, Goal-Setting, Women’s Law and Rights, Self-Defense, Managing Your Money and Getting the Right Job
  • Learn basic English to help them access higher levels of employment in Bangkok
  • Find a female mentor to support their personal and professional development throughout the program
  • Connect to a community of supportive staff, offering access to a computer lounge and library, as well as a welcoming center in the heart of Bangkok.

The Pratthanadee Foundation has been operating for almost two decades, impacting more than 26,000 lives since its inception. However, donations were stagnant from its group of established individual donors, as well as from key brands. Pratthanadee was looking for ways to develop a more emotional connection with current and new donors to be able to help reach even more people. We sat down with Beatriz to learn how she applied human-centered design to help the Pratthanadee Foundation gain more external support, and this is what she shared:

HCD In Action

“I believe that there is nothing more powerful than a human-centric approach to solve both life and business challenges. Here’s how that played out in my experteering project:

During the Inspiration phase, we set out to develop the foundation’s first creative concept leveraging storytelling and key marketing tactics to motivate donors to get involved.

  • Chosen method: Interviews & Secondary Research
    • Rationale: To understand the company’s goals and how users interact with the company’s services.
    • Execution: Working with guidance from the Pratthanadee team, we conducted expert interviews and I immersed myself in secondary research to learn about Thailand’s cultural realities, the operating system behind societal issues, and the Pratthanadee program manager’s and female participant’s leading drivers to establish the motivations for enrollment. 

During the Ideation phase, we built on our learnings from the inspiration phase by doing the following:

  • Chosen method: Identify patterns & conduct “How Might We” exercise
    • Rationale: To synthesize our learnings from the inspiration phase into actionable next steps.
    • Execution: After downloading our learnings from phase one and finding patterns and insights, we started re-framing these into the “how might we” questions to spark a new world of possibilities. The central theme was that there was no bridge connecting the donors with the students, hence there was no sense of community or connection. Turning this into a question allowed us to come up with the final concept and tactics to bridge that gap.

During the Implementation phase, we used the following methods to translate our ideas into action:

  • Chosen method: Identify KPIs and Assign Team Ownership
    • Rationale: With a roadmap and strategy in place from phase two, we next wanted to define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that would indicate success in developing and executing the rest of the plan.
    • Execution: We agreed that when messages come directly from the beneficiaries themselves, it automatically creates a connection that inspires action. Hence, we created “A Better Me is a Better You” rallying cry, the belief that everything we do to empower women has a ripple effect backwards, forward & upward, for you and them. Then, we shifted all donor- specific communication to come directly from the female participants. Lastly, we created particular tactics to generate momentum and maintain synergies across all touch points: an investor’s deck, Women of Pratthanadee for social media (inspired by Humans of New York), and handwritten thank-you postcards from the women themselves.

Since returning home, I’ve continued to stay in touch with the Pratthanadee team. They recently shared this update with me: ‘The feedback around our messaging of Better Me has been great. People seem to get it much better and hence their understanding of our mission is much clearer. In the past we had difficulty synthesizing our message into something that people could easily understand. The marketing materials you helped us prepare have helped bridge that gap. Working together forced us to really think about how we wanted to position ourselves. I think our story in the past was muddled but as a result of this project we’ve found a way to better connect with our audience.’ “

[Editor’s note: You can read about the Better Me Program on Pratthanadee’s website here, and check out their social accounts on Instagram and Facebook.]

HCD Case Study #4: Lynn & WeDuShare


Lynn Thurston experteered her business strategy skills with WeDuShare, an emerging online educational platform in Cambodia supporting young students on their journey to higher education. The WeDuShare platform does this by connecting students with important educational information, inspiration, and access to support.

The WeDuShare team partnered with Lynn to improve its scale-up strategy, specifically to help update the company’s value proposition, strategic plans for the future, stakeholder communications, and the design of a new organization chart. We caught up with Lynn to learn how she applied human-centered design to get WeDuShare ready for the next level of impact, and here’s what she shared:

HCD In Action

“During the Inspiration phase, we set out to question our assumptions and actively seek input from people who are using or will use the products and services we are developing. This involved:

  • Chosen method: Journey Mapping
    • Rationale: To understand the way users interact with the company, progress to date, challenges, bottlenecks, and hopes for the future. 
    • Execution: We asked 15 WeDuShare customers to draw a journey map illustrating how each of them used the company’s website. We agreed, at a minimum, this information would be helpful in the design of the new website.
  • Chosen method: Interviews
    • Rationale: To identify stakeholder points of view regarding value provided by WeDuShare, along with possible ideas for future directions.
    • Execution: We developed interview questions, defined the target audience, conducted in-person & online surveys, set time frames & determined who will be involved in gathering & analyzing the data.

During the Ideation phase, we used the following methods:

  • Chosen Method: Map findings with post-it notes
    • Rationale: To assist with sharing findings, discussing themes, identifying insights & forming “How Might We” questions.
    • Execution: Mapping the insights we gained from the customer journey mapping exercise and interviews, the results were clear: “They love us, not our website.” The 15 customers found the website hard to navigate and preferred, instead, to get information from the company’s Facebook page and newsletter updates. Most avoided the website altogether, which was a totally unexpected finding that paved the way for a radical shift in the design of their future website. 
  • Chosen Method: Mock up 5 potential solutions 
    • Rationale: The more ideas, the better. By throwing all of our ideas on the board, we could narrow it down from there.
    • Execution: We mocked up 5 potential website solutions using paper, markers, tape, etc. We then decided on the time frame and resources needed to execute the solution we picked.

During the Implementation phase, we used the following methods:

  • Chosen Method: Present ideas for feedback & iteration
    • Rationale: End-user feedback is required, particularly from key stakeholders like customers and partners who might be asked to provide support via future collaboration, lobbying, or funding.
    • Execution: We developed a training plan to support the team in collecting feedback to make data-driven decisions about which solutions to execute. At the end of it all, we decided on a project management system, loaded our findings and decisions about the website and other deliverables into it, and toasted our progress with passion fruit smoothies. HCD provided a window, literally, into the value of questioning assumptions and leveraging the keys to success – designing with the needs of end users firmly in mind.” 

As you can see, human-centered design can take many forms, and the key is tailoring your tactics to the situation at hand. We appreciate Beatriz and Lynn for taking us behind the scenes of their experteering projects, and make sure to follow our #LearnHCD series for resources, methods, and more case studies to help you leverage HCD for impact.

If you’re ready to follow in their footsteps and use your human-centered design skills to create real impact, apply to our MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship!