Designing for Social Impact

Designing for Social Impact

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Designers of all stripes today are seeking social and civic projects that have a mission to serve the greater good at their core. Part of this growing trend stems from the desire to use skills for their highest potential. But the real payoff is the ability to use new design tools and approaches to help solve usability and communication issues in the social space at scale.

In this O'Reilly report, Gretchen Anderson—VP of Product for a national non-profit in education—explains how designers can use their skills to help affect positive social change. You'll learn how designing for the social space often differs considerably from commercial work, and explore lessons from the field when working in civic engagement projects, non-profit advocacy, and healthcare.

  • Understand the importance of being empathetic by learning what works, rather than creating things "for" people
  • Focus on methods that help people make long-term behavioral changes
  • Target your designs for everyone affected by a particular social segment, instead of those most easily reached
  • Learn why the tolerance for risky solutions is low for social projects

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Gretchen Anderson

Gretchen Anderson

Gretchen Anderson is head of design for Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s energy utility. Gretchen spent the first part of her career in design consulting for firms like frog, Cooper, LUNAR, and Punchcut. Recently, she served as the vice president of product for GreatSchools and consulted on the design of the hardware and software of a next-generation surgical system. Gretchen is a Bay Area native who left only long enough to get a bachelor’s degree from Harvard in history and literature.