For those of you that are curious and interested in learning more about how human-centered design can help improve ASRH outcomes, understanding some of the most commonly used terms is a useful starting place. We have compiled a glossary to help you get started. This is not an exhaustive list and these are the working definitions that we use at HCDExchange. We do acknowledge that other collaborators and partners in this field may use varying terms.


Any person between ages 10 to 19

Adolescent insights

Information that ASRH practitioners and designers can use to obtain a more nuanced understanding of the target population – more specifically adolescent needs, mindsets, aspirations, desires, and preferences. Experts highlight that insights generated through HCD are thought to produce ‘new’ knowledge that will add value to the wider body of knowledge around adolescent sexual reproductive health.


Co-designing is a process of creating solutions along with the users you are trying to affect. Activities can be used to define a complete solution or just to gather input and feedback on small features of products or services. (Related terms: co-creation; participatory design).


Design is the process of developing informed, sensitive, inclusive, purposeful and innovative solutions that embody functional and aesthetic demands based on the needs of the intended users and their ecosystem. Design is applied in the development of goods, services, processes, messages, and environments. The term ‘design’ can be used interchangeably with ‘Human-centered’ design.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is an approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people; the possibilities of technology; and the requirements for business success. Design thinking, skills, and practices should be thought of as being appropriate to all disciplines including design.

Design Sprint

Is a time constrained process that goes through the stages of identifying a challenge, designing, prototyping, and testing the prototypes with the user group in mind.

Human-centered Design (HCD)

Human-centered design is the process of integrating human perspectives in all steps of the problem-solving process. The aim is to better understand an issue from the human perspective and focus on how it looks and feels to users within their environment and context.

HCD Principles

HCD is based on four fundamental principles: identify the ‘real/underlying’ problem; being people-centered; employ activity based discovery; and iterate, test, and refine proposed solutions rapidly.

HCD Process

HCD operationalizes its principles in a process that includes four main phases: inspiration, ideation, prototyping (or testing) and implementation.

HCD Mindsets

In the HCD process, four main mindsets are encouraged, as it is often said that having these mindsets are key to following the HCD process. The four mindsets are:

  • Empathy
  • Learn from failure
  • Embrace ambiguity and
  • Creative confidence


This is a HCDExchange-specific term and a short form for describing the use of HCD approaches in adolescent and sexual reproductive health programming.


This is also a HCDExchange-specific term and a short form for describing the use of HCD approaches in adolescent and youth sexual reproductive health programming.


Ideas or anecdotes expressed as succinct statements that serve to interpret patterns in research findings. Insights offer a new perspective, even if they are not new discoveries. They are inspiring and relevant to the design challenge. (Related terms: sensemaking; synthesis).

Meaningful Youth Engagement

Meaningful youth engagement is an inclusive, intentional, mutually-respectful partnership between adolescents, youth, and adults whereby power is shared, respective contributions are valued, and young people’s ideas, perspectives, skills, and strengths are integrated into the design and delivery of programs, strategies, policies, funding mechanisms, and organizations that affect their lives and their communities, countries, and world. (Global MAYE Consensus Statement).


A representative identity that reflects one of the user groups. It is a representation of a user segment with shared needs and characteristics.


A model or artifact built to test a concept with users to learn from them and use insights to improve development of the prototype. Prototype development process helps designers reflect on key aspects that determine how well a solution will work in real life conditions rather than theoretical conditions.

Young People

Any person aged 10-24.


Any person between ages 15 -24.

Youth Integration

This is the practice of involving young people (aged 10 – 24) in the design and the implementation of HCD+ASRH.