OpenIDEO.com is an online collaborative platform developed to crowd source design talent across the Internet to tackle difficult interdisciplinary problems. Many of their design Challenges have focused upon issues concerning impoverished communities. Challenges include human sanitation solutions, alternatives for serving maternal health issues with mobile technologies, affordable learning tools, and social business models to improve health, and other pressing global quandaries. The platform uses tens of thousands of designers to contribute inspirations and design concepts for product and service-based solutions. The design process uses Human-Centered Design (HCD) techniques to develop interventions for the public and private sectors, in the form of products and services which are catered specifically to users’ needs. These products and services have considerable economic, social, and cultural benefits for firms and customers alike. In fact, the IDEO community has developed a Human-Centered Design (HCD) toolkit that helps designers develop products and services tailored for communities at the base of the pyramid. Although HCD techniques are practiced by IDEO consistently, a collection of larger HCD literature argues for parallel, yet slightly different, metrics of design success, which rarely have a chance to be tested against real-world settings. Fortunately, the rich content of OpenIDEO affords a novel opportunity to study the presence and effectiveness of HCD metrics in practice. By synthesizing seminal texts describing metrics for design thinking, we develop a collection of metrics that use empathetic methods to identify user needs. We then apply qualitative coding methods to find parallel themes between OpenIDEO Challenges that address issues in impoverished communities. Moreover, we use this comparison to answer the following questions:
1) Which, if any, of the HCD characteristics are potential predictors for successful designs?
2) How well do the present themes and metrics of the OpenIDEO design community correlate with metrics of Human-Centered Design?
These qualitative methods complement previous quantitative network analyses of the OpenIDEO network, in the hopes of developing benchmarks for HCD methods that successfully cater to user needs.