Our Capabilities

We specialize in designing with and for people who have life experiences that are underrepresented in positions of institutional power. We go deep into policy, operational, and training requirements to get our solutions implemented at scale.

See below to learn about our capabilities.

Policy Design

The strategic core of our practice is ideation and foresight to develop new policy-enabled futures. We collaborate with think tanks, philanthropies, NGOs, elected executive offices, and senior appointed officials to identify paths to meaningful policy change, and we’re increasingly seeking to support legislative efforts to drive change.

Starting with the lived experience of the public and providers, we support policy leaders and experts in identifying human- centered paths to meaningful policy change.


Research & Evaluation

We conduct design research with the public, front-line providers, and government staff to understand their needs and behaviors. To uncover latent knowledge, we use semi-structured or intercept interviews, observational research, workplace shadowing, or diary studies, among other ethnographically informed methods. Beyond new primary research, our teams carry out literature reviews and data analyses to understand what's already known about the policy contexts we seek to improve. As we co-design, test, and support deployment of new services and products, we conduct qualitative and quantitative evaluations of implementation and, to the degree possible, also assess impact.

Our teams seek to understand individuals’ experiences first-hand. We do research virtually and in person, in venues as diverse as city halls, schools, shelters, and people’s homes and favorite cafés.

Community Engagement

We facilitate the input of community stakeholders through the discovery, design, piloting, and evaluation phases of our projects. Working with our agency partners' networks, we engage with frontline providers and leaders at advocacy organizations and/or at community-based organizations.

We help our partners build support for new initiatives by bringing stakeholder voices into the planning and implementation process.

Service Design

To design better public services, we explore human experiences across time and modes of service delivery. We map current states of a service system, visualize people's experiences and activities, and identify shared needs. Then, we co-design new and improved ways to deliver a public service with community members and provider staff, while working closely with our policy partners to uncover the operational requirements for implementation. This service-design process results in new full-stack designs for policy delivery—from mental models for leaders, to tools for staff, to materials and interfaces for the public.

Policy and service delivery is complex. We create visual representations of service-delivery pathways and interaction models  to help people navigate complicated systems—or change them.

Product Design

Our visual designers are well-versed in considering content strategy, accessibility, and information architecture alongside design, brand, and business goals. We create polished communications products, internal tools, and digital interfaces that meet users where they are, respecting their preferred devices, platforms, languages, and literacy levels.

PPL design teams create public-facing products, like this website to help students in shelter connect to public services, as well as tools and materials to support policymakers’ internal decision-making.

Change Management

PPL applies insights from design and behavioral science to develop new approaches to operations and systems—and to help stakeholders feel ownership and embrace change. We prefer for our implementation partners to 'embed' in our project team and participate in research and design activities. That way, when it comes time to deploy products at scale, our partners are deeply familiar with the motivations and applied uses of the outputs we co-created.

We know that change for the public comes through change in public operations. That’s why we focus on deployment as much as on design. We pilot new programs and develop guidance for implementation at scale.

Our Project Model

We combine deep engagement with project stakeholders with agile approaches that allow for iteration and incremental delivery during project execution.

Even when people are excited to innovate, implementation is hard. Our expertise is in helping partners move from identifying change opportunities to deployment—and from launching discrete products or services to policy-driven interventions on a system scale.

We organize our projects into “releases,” every one of which results in the delivery of a complete product to our partners. A full engagement with PPL includes 10 standard releases—Scope, Prepare, Research, Synthesize, Co-Design, Launch, Monitor & Evaluate, Redesign, Integrate, Share & Scale—each with a standard deliverable of value.

Based on project goals, timeline, and available budget, PPL scopes a project plan that includes all or a subset of these releases. Our preference is for projects where we can move from early-stage research all the way to implementation at scale.

A Predictable Process

Innovation can feel murky—an abstract process full of uncertainty. That’s why we’ve established a standard process, so that even if we can’t know up front exactly what solutions research and testing will generate, we know how we will get there.

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The Public Policy Lab is a tax-exempt

501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.