Designing to Save Lives

Sometimes simple design solutions have the potential to affect millions of lives. Last month we finished a project to redesign vaccination records. These simple documents carry vital information for hundreds of millions of children around the world, so the Gates Foundation held a contest to improve the design in order to make them more effective. Key objectives included making the forms durable, easy to use, and ready for the digital transition that will inevitably determine how the data in these records is collected and stored.

Our team started by considering one of the biggest challenges to these records – which is a classic User Experience (UX) challenge, getting the right information in the hands of the right people and clearing out everything else. The two main groups that use these records are parents and health workers, and each has slightly different objectives. While health workers need to see a detailed history of vaccinations and other key health indicators, parents simply need to record development milestones and know when their next appointment is.Taking this all into consideration we developed the card below.


Our main organizing principle led us to create a two sided document that has parental information on one side, and health worker content on the other. We kept the card the same familiar yellow of traditional vaccination cards, a characteristic that has distinguished this document and emphasized its importance. We used an illustration style that can translate easily into a number of languages and will work for illiterate parents, and suggested printing on Tyvek to ensure a low cost way of achieving durability.

Now we wait and see if our ideas impressed the team at Gates, and if so, hopefully we will have contributed to something that has the potential to improve preventative care and treatment for hundreds of millions of children around the world.




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