Design approach

Design stages at the British Red Cross and examples of how we do them in practice.

  1. Scope the work
  2. Discover
  3. Test different options
  4. Start small and scale
  5. Improve continuously

1. Scope the work

Get a shared understanding of what success is. Narrow down the problem space to focus on and set up a team with the skills to explore it.

Why Supporter Celebration Week?
Camille St-Omer Donaldson 10 min read

Introducing cash-based assistance discovery
Afsa Akbar 3 min read

What to consider:

  • What does success look like?
  • Can success be measured? If so, how?
  • Is the problem space too large or abstract for one team?
  • What decisions will research help inform?
  • What skills does the team need to succeed?
  • Is the team's time set up to get stuff done?
  • Is there a senior person to sponsor the work?
  • Is there a budget for all the stages?

2. Discover

Listen to the people you are designing for, to understand their wants, needs and constraints. Gain a detailed understanding of the problem you need to solve.

What we learnt from people who responded at Grenfell
Mieka Webber 6 min read

Wrapping up discovery
Vicky Houghton-Price 6 min read

Mapping unmet needs
Harry Trimble 3 min read

What to consider:

  • Is the whole team comfortable with uncertainty?
  • Does the team agree what decisions the research is trying to inform?
  • Can the team explain who they’re interviewing and why?
  • Is the team regularly sharing what it learns?
  • Does the team know when and why progress is slow?
  • Is the team regularly talking with the senior sponsor?
  • Can the team decide what to focus on the next stage?
  • If research suggests, is the team allowed to stop the work?

3. Test different options

Test ideas with people you are designing for, to find what best solves the problem. Iterate ideas that show promise and discard ones that don’t.

Testing an emergency call centre and a proactive letter
Jo Straw 6 min read

Testing a rota prototype with Emergency Response volunteers
Laura Basegmezer 6 min read

What to consider:

  • Can the team explain what problem they’re trying to solve and why?
  • Does the team have a process to generate and evaluate ideas?
  • Does the team know how to test ideas?
  • Is the team testing more than one idea?
  • Is the team discarding ideas that test badly?
  • Is the team iterating and further testing promising ideas?
  • Are the team learning enough to plan in detail the next stage?

4. Start small and scale

Test one promising solution in the ‘real world’. Start small and learn quickly to reduce risk. Iterate or pivot based on the insights you gain.

Creating a scaleable rota system for emergencies
Shefna Baldwin 3 min read

Making a manual for support line volunteers
Harry Trimble 4 min read

What to consider:

  • Can the team explain who will use the solution first and why?
  • Does the team have the skills to build the tested solution for real?
  • What part of the organisation is responsible for running the solution?
  • What plans does the team have for when things go wrong?
  • How is the team measuring success?
  • Can the team quickly change the solution based on what it’s learning?
  • Has the team learned enough to safely scale up the solution?

5. Improve continuously

Now proved, embed the solution in the dedicated organisation area. Continuously improve based on people's wants, needs and behaviours.

It’s time to Level Up
Adrien Barbusse 2 min read

What to consider:

  • Is there a team in place to keep improving the solution?
  • What are the plans to keep improving the solution?
  • Is the solution being regularly improved?
  • Is the solution having the success the team intended? How do they know?
  • How is the solution be financially sustainable to run?
  • Are people still using the solution?
  • When will the team know it’s time to retire the solution?