Our Process


Using Human-Centered Design


PSI Niger and YLabs joined forces to apply a human-centered design (HCD) approach to develop a tailored intervention which embodied comprehensive community insights into how religious beliefs and health needs can be leveraged to improve support for birth spacing and contraceptive use in Niger.

HCD is is a creative approach to problem solving. It’s about understanding people’s needs, preferences and behaviors to build and prototype solutions that are creative, robust, and informed by the needs of the end user and the implementers. Designers start by understanding the end users’ needs using a variety of ethnographic and observational techniques. Through cultivating curiosity, creativity, systems thinking and exploring lessons from analogous sectors, designers can develop and refine products and services that better engage the target population. By understanding demand drivers for the product or services, insights from the end user are used to iterate and improve the prototypes in order to refine them for implementation and scale.

In this HCD process, the team learned a tremendous amount along the way — how to navigate discussions on taboo subjects with sensitivity and care; how to take an intangible idea and turn it into a rough prototype to test; how to use Hausa proverbial expressions to better convey our questions and ideas to our participants in Zinder; and, importantly, how to pivot in our approach when design research revealed surprising and unprecedented findings.

“All our programs are informed by consumer insights. What is different are some of the creative ways that the HCD process gathers these insights. And perhaps even more importantly, how the HCD process quickly designs, tests and iterates the resulting strategies.”

— PSI Representative.


Where we went and with whom we spoke


Intervention area

We worked in 9 villages in Niger’s Zinder region, more specifically in the three administrative departments of Matameye, Magaria, and Mirriah—commonly known as the “3 Ms".


Excluding experts interviews and the participants recruited during the pilot phase, we interacted with over 200 community members, including 73 religious leaders, 12 healthcare providers, and 66 married young men and women between the ages of 15 and 25, with 0 to 5 children.

Our timeline and tools



MAY-July 2017

1. Inspiration

We employed a combination of ethnographic and design research methods, each designed to uncover the community’s perspective on and knowledge of reproductive health.

July-October 2017

2. Ideation

Building on what we learned during the inspiration phase, we generated solution concepts which were then quickly prototyped and field-tested with the community.

October 2017-Ongoing

3. Implementation

Driven by the feedback collected during the ideation phase, we refined and improved our solution concepts, in preparation for live prototyping. Based on the lessons of live prototyping gathered in the field, we developed implementation and branding tools and launched a six-month pilot to monitor and evaluate the intervention's progress health, communication, and normative outcomes of interest.