Prototyping turns good ideas into better practices

Human-centered design uses prototyping to identify weak points and refine co-designed concepts. In Core Nigeria’s Design Clinics, public health professionals from Niger and Lagos states engaged in field research to prototype their concepts.
June 8, 2021

Prototyping is a central part of the human-centered design (HCD) process, which develops solutions to complex problems by turning initial ideas into practical services or products. Prototypes are early versions of a concept that is tested with users in controlled and often real-world context. It is a cost-effective way to allow design teams to identify weak points, refine existing concepts, and receive feedback from stakeholders before scaling the new product or service. This makes the design process participatory and aligned with the end-users’ needs.

Scope has used prototyping across a diverse range of projects. One of them is Core Nigeria’s Design Clinics where we supported teams from Niger and Lagos state, made up of programmatic implementers, public health professionals, and government officials, to apply HCD and innovate new ways of improving primary healthcare services disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The two teams embarked on hands-on field testing in both states to prototype their designed concepts to strengthen community access to health information.

The Niger team trialled a new communication model that leverages local volunteer networks to increase community presence and patient advocacy at public health centres to mitigate mistrust felt toward the services. The Lagos team tested creating community outreach and information kiosks for primary healthcare located in everyday spaces, such as salons or marketplaces to increase routine immunisation uptake. Join us on a visual prototyping journey to learn more about the method and how Core Nigeria is working with government officials to institutionalise innovation in healthcare practice.

Two women in orange vests are walking in a town centre on their way to the prototyping workshop. On their left are people walking on the street to the other direction.

Community health influencers (wearing orange vests) on their way to a workshop with the Niger state team at the primary healthcare clinic in Maitumbi town. They will engage in experiential prototyping to explore how their presence at the health centre could best support the community in accessing information about maternal, newborn, and child health services.

Woman wearing a burqa holds a paper doll depicting a community elder. She has a baby in her lap and other prompts in front of her. A Niger team member is sitting on a bench at the side, listening closely to the woman's explanation.

Activity-based design tools are used to guide the HCD process. The Niger state team used paper dolls and emojis as part of the interactive storyboarding method, allowing participants to share their experiences through a story rather than by recalling isolated moments, often resulting in richer data. Here, a caregiver of a child under five years is sharing her experience of COVID-19 communication.

In prototyping, paper dolls depicting community members, objects depicting different means of communication and emotions, and cards depicting houses and other public settings are placed on the floor. Around them, hands are picking up different prompts to assist in the storytelling.

Paper dolls, objects, emojis, and cards depicting everyday places are used to encourage discussion and storytelling about the emotions, services, journeys, and experiences related to the community. This tool helps facilitators achieve a rich understanding of the dynamics between the tested prototypes, healthcare workers, and community members.

Prototyping workshop participants are standing around a table full of storytelling prompts, such as emotions and paper dolls. Among them are orange vested community health influencers, health workers, and Niger state team participants.

Niger state team takes part in a storyboarding activity with healthcare workers and community health influencers at the primary healthcare clinic in Maitumbi. Bringing together all stakeholders to solve shared issues is central to the HCD approach. It ensures that diverse perspectives get included and the final design is inclusive and well-informed.

A view of the inner yard of the health centre located within the informal settlement. A woman is walking with a baby on her back on the yard. The yard is empty apart from four parked cars.

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected routine immunisation levels in Lagos. Lagos state team chose Makoko Yaba primary healthcare centre, located within an informal settlement, to prototype their outreach and information kiosks in order to increase the uptake of routine immunisation in the community.

Management committee member is being interviewed by three Lagos state members. In front of him on a table are some prototyping paper prompts (emotions and cards with familiar settings) that are being used during the interview.

Key informant interviews are another method used in HCD research and prototyping to gain in-depth information about particular topics. Lagos state team interviews a member of the Makoko primary healthcare centre management committee member to hear his views of the existing barriers around community outreach and information sharing on routine immunisation.

Two people are sitting on a sofa in a hair salon, one is a Lagos state team member and the other is the hair salon owner. Bags of brown and black hair extensions are hanging on the wall behind them. In the front, two women are listening to the interview, writing notes.

Hair salons are an example of everyday places that could be used as outreach kiosks to share information about the significance of immunisation. A Ministry of Health official from the Lagos state team interviews a hair salon owner about her perceptions of the new outreach kiosk concept.

A community leader in a yellow dress and turban sitting in front of a yellow wall. She is holding a yellow emotion card depicting a smiley face. On the table in front of her are pictures of sad and nonplussed faces. At the front we see the profile of the interviewer to whom the community leader is talking.

A community leader gives her opinion of the new kiosk concept using emotion cards. Next, the Niger and Lagos teams will review feedback and insights gathered during their field research. Afterwards, the teams will decide how to enhance the concepts to improve their effectiveness and uptake before implementing final solution concepts across both states.

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