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A way to re-imagine the future of the knowledge hub and prototype a working solution to help the UN women globally.


Project Type: Design Thinking Workshop

Duration: March 2022 - June 2022

Team: Lee Kim (Experience Lead), Saranya Villavankothai (Service Designer), Maggie Gregory (Designer), various other facilitators 

My role: Service Designer

Technology: Miro, Figma, Loom

The Challenge

The Approach

The Preliminary Outcome

The Final Outcome

UN Women (ending violence against women and girls) had identified the need to improve knowledge sharing platform/experiences among its members as well as NGO partners around the world. The current knowledge sharing platform is an antiquated website created a decade ago which no longer meets the changing needs of its users. The UN Women knowledge management team wanted to co-create a flexible and agile knowledge sharing platform based on the current users’ needs within the time frame and resources allowed.

UN Women knowledge management team partnered with Design Dream Lab (DDL) to create the flexible framework and processes to bring user voices into the creative problem solving space as well as to curate co-creation experience applying Human-Centered design processes. DDL team developed a modular design innovation approach where each component of the design processes (Landscape/User Discovery/Exploration/Empathy - Problem Definition - Ideation - Prototype - Test) was carried out by different groups of people. While the participants of each process changed, the common linkage of each process was the DDL dreamers acting as facilitators and designers.

Within 3 months of engagement (March to June 2022), the DDL project team delivered three workshops: one Discovery workshop with UN Women and NGOs around the world, two Ideation + Prototype workshops with volunteers around the world). Five prototypes were presented to UN Women - 1) AI enabled matching mentor/guiding system, 2) Global Storytelling platform, 3) SMS based knowledge/mentor matching service, 4) Machine learning AI enabled knowledge sharing website, 5) Simple research paper synthesizing web platform. Of these prototypes, UN Women team evaluated the feasibilities and resources available for this year and selected two web-based platform to be further tested with the users.

Proposal to be presented to the UN Women upper management to acquire a budget to implement the final prototype.

Design Brief

Ending violence against women (EVAW) is in the process of improving their global knowledge strategy to support the implementation of EVAW policies and programs across the globe. They have prioritized the improvement of the Virtual Knowledge Center (VKC) to end violence against women and girls. VKC was launched in 2010 as an online resource and its platform aims to encourage shared ownership of the site and on-going partnership building for its continuous development.​


  • Improve the EVAW knowledge platform into an asset for global, regional and country offices and partners (governments, civil society)

  • Consolidate a “one approach to EVAW” while allowing context specific adaptations

  • Develop a shared understanding of the priorities on EVAW

  • Foster inclusive and collaborative knowledge production on EVAW with diverse actors

Target Users


About the Team


We had facilitators and design thinkers coming together from across the world including US, Germany, Canada, India, Australia, Spain, Malaysia to support the UN women and to envision new possibilities.

01 Research Phase

Exploration and Discovery Session with UN Women

The first step in the design process is to understand the users and their unmet needs. For this particular project, we had identified three main user groups - 1) NGO Partners who rely on trust-worthy sources, 2) UN Women country staff who support the local efforts, 3)Knowledge contributors who prepare the guidance/policies. All three groups were invited to the first discovery/exploration workshop where they shared their current experiences of seeking and sharing information/knowledge as well as using those to drive change. The groups also discussed what future knowledge sharing platforms they are desiring to experience.


Step 1: Identify the current state: How do the UN Women currently seek, share, and drive change?


Step 2: Synthesize themes of pain points, surprises, unmet needs


Step 3: Gather insights about the possibilities of the knowledge sharing in the future

Key Insights/Learnings

The exploration session with the UN women helped us gather insights and that emerged from our session with the UN Women.

Pain Points

🔑 Language barriers - data wasn’t available in the local language or outdated information


🔑 Information available was too theoretical and not practical

🔑 Website needs updates and reorganization in a way that makes data more easily searchable

Unmet Needs/Opportunity Areas

🔑 Learn more from the practitioners and document the innovative solutions


🔑 Gender segregated data and information needed

🔑 Simplified materials with visuals and diagrams to convey the information in the local native languages

Deep Dive - Interviews

We chose five participants from different backgrounds and regions to conduct a detailed empathy interviews to learn their journey and experiences and unmet needs of the current knowledge platform. Of these user empathy interviews, two were chosen as the “users” for us to develop point of view, design challenge, ideate solutions and create prototypes.

Empathy Maps

To understand our users, we had to outline what our users felt, think, say, and do to create a more meaningful user persona.


User Personas

Based on the detailed stories gathered, two distinct personas surfaced as important groups to be examined further. One who creates guidelines and policies for the world to use, but is frustrated that people cannot find information or do not know how to use the information. She wants to lead from behind by empowering the people who are doing the work, especially giving opportunities to the global south partners. One is an NGO partner who often lacks time, resources, and opportunities to grow the knowledge base. These two personas and their unmet needs would guide the ideation and prototype building process.


02 Ideation Phase

💡 Time for some fun! We gathered our design team volunteers to prototype for our first ideation session.

Step 1 - Context Immersion

Facilitators along with other designers from the community were requested to join the ideation session. We had to get everyone on the same page with all the gathered insights. We shared key documents with the team to prepare ahead of time and asked them to complete the empathy maps based on the user interviews.

  1. Miro board link from the UN Women exploration session

  2. Interview Guides

  3. Two empathy interview outputs


Andrea's user persona


Lyndsey's user persona

Step 2 - Brainstorming

Divide and Conquer

Two groups focused on User 1 and one group focused on User 2. Ideation process encouraged wild and crazy ideas as long as the ideas were to help the user to address the unmet needs. Once the large quantity of the ideas were generated, these ideas were arranged under different themes following the affinity mapping methods.


Group 1


Group 2


Group 3

Step 3 - Prototyping

It was time to diverge into a single idea to explore and prototype for each group to explore. It was important to note that the prototypes did not have to be perfect but a rough a sketch to present the concept.


Group 1 Prototype


Group 2 Prototype


Group 3 Prototype

Summary of Ideas from Ideation Session

Key Ideas

🔑 Matching the NGO partners with the right mentors or experts to guide them through the process - some ways for the matching and searching to be also be done without connection to internet.

🔑 Share best practices and stories from local region and allow the storyteller to connect with the larger network

🔑 Simplified guidelines that allows the NGO partners to quickly review and determine the use.

🔑 Being able to ask questions and also do crowd source the answers, common challenges.

Step 4 - Refining Ideas

We ran another prototyping session to narrow the top ideas further. The second prototyping session was carried out with different participants. However, the group started from the ideas that were generated from the previous group. After the second prototype session, five prototypes were finalized for UN Women team to consider for user testing.

  1. Story playland - Traveling storytelling bus/festival (physical) with centralized virtual hub (website). This could be a full-apprentice program coupled with global network of storytellers, story collectors who use local tradition to bring women to realize their power and gain knowledge and education.

  2. Knowledge Hub - Search for the guideline/research for certain topic, the results will not only give the original research/policy guide, it will also provide highlights and bullet points for a quick review.

  3. Knowledge sharing platform - search for information, share ideas/stories/best practices, ask questions to community or to the experts, and connect with experts, learning through different formats

  4. Matching mentors/experts with NGO partners - AI enabled matching system that can stand alone as Kiosk or be used as an App

  5. Knowledge and expert matching via SNS


Prototype 1 - Story Playland


Prototype 2 - Knowledge Hub


Prototype 3 - Knowledge Sharing Platform


Prototype 5 - Knowledge and expert matching via SNS

Prototype 4 - Matching mentors/experts with NGO partners - AI Enabled

Preliminary Selection for User Testing

All the prototypes were presented to the main stakeholders at the UN Women and they were all well received. There were two prototypes that were finalized for further user testing with the focus on a knowledge hub that will be tested with our test users. The other prototypes will still be used as resource mobilization opportunities.


Prototype 2 - Knowledge Hub


Prototype 3 - Knowledge Sharing Platform

Final Output

As UN Women requires proposals for the ideas to be implemented, we are currently working with the team to create a comprehensive proposal that outlines all of the research to be presented to their upper management. 

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