D4SD participants will work together on teams to discover civic issues, to ideate novel solutions for those issues, to prototype and get feedback on proposed solutions, to pitch your refined concept, and to activate your community to help bring good ideas to life. The following resources are meant to help you and your team get started at each phase of the D4SD civic design process.

Design for San Diego seeks to tackle complex civic challenges that affect our region by engaging and coordinating hundreds of innovators in a process of human-centered design.

Discover: What experiences do people have with different civic issues?

To investigate a civic issue, D4SD participants conduct interviews, focus groups, and other fieldwork to deeply understand how an issue affects different stakeholders as they engage with the communities of people affected most by an issue. During the discovery phase, innovators listen for stakeholder values, resources, and concerns, which they translate into design constraints that bound the space of viable solutions as well as questions to explore further. Innovators build empathy with the stakeholders through the process of discovery.


Ideate: Can we imagine better ways to address the issues?

D4SD participants generate ideas with other people and as teams. Through the process of generating ideas, D4SD participants explore the problem-space of a civic issue by paying careful attention to the design constraints and design questions identified during the Discovery phase. D4SD participants may also reach out to the stakeholder community as collaborators throughout the ideation process.


Prototype: How can we make our ideas concrete and testable?

As D4SD participants identify viable design ideas, they begin to work with physical materials, such as paper, web systems, and other lightweight media to rapidly realize the idea. By working with materials and engaging with feedback provided by community stakeholders, D4SD participants may recognize new design constraints and questions about the issue.


Pitch: How can we convince other people that we have a good concept?

Without a good story, even the best of ideas can fall flat. During this phase, D4SD participants will develop pitch materials, including a poster and a short elevator pitch, to introduce other people to the problem and to the proposed solutions. Read the advice here to refine your team’s concept and create polished pitch materials to help prepare for the D4SD Summit.


Activate: What are the opportunities and barriers toward deployment?

Many civic proposals will fail to gain traction without community support. After developing a viable prototype, your team will need to reach out to those affected by an issue and build alliances with key community leaders and organizers. D4SD participants will have an opportunity to activate their network and to build alliances through the D4SD Summit.