Graphic designers, when confronted with visual communication problems, use human centered problem solving processes to determine the best possible solution. Social Impact DesignHub utilizes a problem-solving approach called “design-thinking,” which draws on human-centered research tailored to the needs of the social sector. The process of designing any product or document appears to be simple and straightforward to the non-professional, but when working with public institutions and nonprofits, the nature of constructing an effective product needs more careful consideration and involves a more human-centered solution.

Often referred to as a research process, design-thinking is a paradigm, rather than an example of a method or a methodology. Design-thinking is rooted in the analysis of designers’ thinking process. There are many variants of the design-thinking process in use today, and while they may have different numbers of stages and models, our approach to solving design problems is based on the design-thinking model developed by David Kelley, founder of IDEO design firm and founder of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (aka the This design-thinking model is based on three main topics: Understanding, Exploring Ideas & Implementing Product Results.


Our designers spent several weeks at the Understanding phase to determine the function of  the problem and obtained feedback from various stakeholders—how people think, feel, say, and do things related to the problem. After brainstorming sessions and secondary visual research processes, we determined what is the best visual design direction and design style to use.

After meetings and discussions with stakeholders, to better understand the problem, we began the Explore Ideas phase—matching needs and functionality with design. Upon completion of identifying the key attributes, we proceeded to the prototyping/ designing—color schemes and graphic systems are developed as well as over all structured of content.

The Understanding phase, is constantly revisited several times through out the project—design-thinking is not linear but a reflective paradigm and includes all the stakeholders involved. It is in the Implementing Product Results phase that our designers show the completion of a project.

For further information on how Social Impact DesignHub can help your nonprofit, contact Dr. Paula DiMarco, |

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