Assessment and Evaluation in Social Impact Design

mi_logo-inversePublic interest design is a human-centered and participatory practice focused on producing products, services, structures, and systems that advance more equitable ecological, economic, and social conditions. Over the past decade, tremendous investments have been devoted to community-based design work, from graphic and product design to placemaking, architecture and urban planning—yet fewer resources have been directed toward harvesting insights about the effect of those activities. Designers claim their work is creating positive social impact, yet there’s a lack of clarity about how best to measure, communicate, and leverage those results. A better understanding of the strategies, tactics, and tools for quantitative and qualitative impact assessment is needed if this emerging field of practice is to realize its full potential.

Mapping Impact is a collaborative field-building initiative to identify and compile a dynamic inventory of metrics, methods, and best practices that can help shape and strengthen evaluation practices in the field of design. This project connects design practitioners, students, and researchers with useful tools and resources already in use in neighboring fields to better understand the effects of their work.

Our objectives are to:

  • Promote increased understanding of existing impact assessment metrics through a variety of disciplinary lenses that can be applied to socially oriented design projects
  • Foster dialogue within the design field and the communities it serves about the value of intentional learning
  • Demonstrate to designers the value of incorporating impact assessment into their process and equip them with resources to do so

The Mapping Impact initiative was established by Design Ignites Change, who believe that creativity holds enormous power to spark positive social change. Design Ignites Change supports a diverse range of creative professionals and students who are committed to improving the lives of individuals and communities through creative problem-solving.

Mapping Impact is supported by a consortium of nonprofit, for-profit, and academic partners. A full list can be found here.