Human-Centered Design

The Welcome Card is an idea born out of our investigation of the refugee and asylum seeking challenge through a human-centered design lens, a creative design approach that focuses on the people (stakeholders) at the center of the challenge. The methodology seeks to produce new solutions that are tailor-made to suit the needs of the humans they are intended for. It's a process that starts with listening to build trust and empathy. This methodology seeks to ultimately implement solutions into the real-world that meet the needs of all stakeholders.

The key in the success of the solution lies in the approach itself, where it keeps the very people the solution looks to serve at the heart of the process.

Why Human-Centered Design?

We could have applied an existing model or safe solution to the refugee and asylum seeking challenge, but we sought to ask the questions few dared to ask. Our human-centered design approach started by giving the asylum seekers and refugees we interviewed the voice to answer one particular question.

What would be the single most important improvement in your day?

The human-centered methodology was the most obvious choice to find the common challenges in this large system of re-settling and welcoming. We applied this approach to align the needs and wishes felt not only by the humans behind the refugee question itself (the refugees and the asylum seekers), but also by the humans behind the handling of the applications (the national immigration authority) and by the humans behind the administration of welcoming (local and regional municipalities).

Thanks to this approach, we have learnt the points of view of all the stakeholders involved, establishing the objective of pushing our solution towards viability and feasibility, while maintaining the core ideology it serves: humans.

Photo courtesy of  Transformator Design ,  a Stockholm-based service design agency that organized the What Design Can Do + UNHCR workshop in 2016.

Photo courtesy of Transformator Design,  a Stockholm-based service design agency that organized the What Design Can Do + UNHCR workshop in 2016.

Systemic Change

We have often referred to The Welcome Card as an adaptable systemic solution. When its two product-based elements, the physical card and the digital platform, are removed, The Welcome Card is nothing more than a framework with a service design foundation. Seeking to align the needs and wishes of several stakeholders, The Welcome Card seeks to drive systemic change to benefit the interdependence of its beneficiaries - asylum seekers and refugees, migration authorities, local government and hosting communities.

Our first assessment as a team was that, faced with the refugee crisis, European countries had created and adopted several solutions to tackle the different challenges they had been presented with along the way. These solutions, however, were too isolated to take in consideration the complex and long-term challenges that were already faltering. 

We shared the same perspective: the current isolated solutions needed a more systematic approach.

Why Systems Thinking?

At the core of our systems thinking lays a human-centric methodology that proposes we look into the socio-politico-economical connections of users within an environment. By applying systemic thinking, we are able to analyze the inter-dependent behaviors of all stakeholders affected by this challenge, and design a solution that is both relevant for the economy and society of this time, and transformative for the future.

The Welcome Card is systemic because:

  • it proposes to redesign the way immigration processes are executed.
  • it guides the transformative integration process that asylum seekers and refugees go through from the moment they present the request for asylum to the day they are approved and are given refugee status:
    • allowing them access to their own application status via a one-stop platform that is easily accessible at any time, while participating in other social activities
    • ensuring a meaningful waiting time by providing access to publicly available services, from public transportation, to recreational activities for children, language and skill-based courses;
    • preparing them to become well-equipped members of society for the day their request is approved.
  • it simplifies the asylum request decision-making process for the national migration authority by:
    • reducing the handling time that is currently being utilized to resolve unnecessary requests;
    • providing new forms of communication between asylum applicants and the migration authority case workers directing 80% of the current communications (letters, phone calls and personal visits) onto digital forms of communication;
    • developing a user-friendly digital environment that presents immigration and asylum seeking laws and policies.
  • it fosters early inclusion with the local communities by inviting asylum seekers to be part of society and learn about culture and traditions, working environment and social etiquette by:
    • bringing asylum seekers and refugees together with the local communities for shared social activities that create trust.