The Design for America (DFA) Process Guide, a runner-up in the 2014 Core77 Design Awards, provides self-directed instruction in the human-centered design process for extra-curricular, interdisciplinary, university-based teams tackling local and social challenges.

Novice designers use the Guide to situate themselves within the three main phases of the process (Understand, Create, Implement), gain confidence in their design abilities, and understand the skills needed as they design solutions for pressing problems such as illiteracy, poverty, and obesity. Each phase contains detailed steps and examples from past DFA challenges, and reflection questions to help students know when to re-evaluate their work or proceed to a different step.

Five years ago, we set out to understand how we could apply the human-centered design process to local and social challenges to change the way we live our daily lives. We started with a one page guide and based on our extensive testing and iterations with Design for America students, mentors, partners, faculty, and more, we now have a 222 page guide. For the parts that work, we thank the hundreds of people who have given great advice, provided new references, taken great photographs, and more. We thank thought leaders in design and education at Northwestern, MIT, RISD, Stanford, IDEO, Greater Good Studio, Carnegie Mellon, Case Western for providing inspirational lectures, textbooks, and toolkits. For the parts that don’t work, we take full responsibility and apologize to our peers, teachers, and colleagues for not fully understanding their brilliant insights and feedback to improve the guide. Know that as you read this version, we are already preparing the release of the next version. We are also working on a digital supplement to this version of the guide, which includes more detailed “How-To’s” for specific techniques, which can be found on our new online learning platform called the Loft. Visit the Loft here for more information and updates.

Whether you are a student, a mentor, a professional, or a partner, we hope you’ll use the Guide to understand the three main phases of the Design for America process – Understand, Create, and Implement to gain confidence in your design abilities and design solutions for the pressing issues in the world today.

Download your copy today!