Small Surfaces helps organisations achieve a positive social impact through human-centred strategy and design.
From customer research to user experience design ideation to rapid prototyping, Small Surfaces works in partnership with its clients to understand and respond to the complex needs of organisations and communities to create meaningful, effective and sustainable change.
With more than 9 years of global design experience, we have demonstrated successful project outcomes with non-profits, start-ups and large established organisations to deliver appropriate, compelling and effective design solutions that have lasting impact.
Our work in action.
Improving operational efficiency of ultra-low-cost schools
Bridge International Academies is building a network of schools in low-income communities in Africa and South Asia, and wanted to use mobile technology to improve operational efficiency in their 1000+ schools and back-office.
Through workshops, design ideation, rapid prototyping and human-centred research activities, Small Surfaces delivered design for a suite of mobile tools that helped school managers, teachers and field staff work effectively using low-cost smartphones and tablets in areas of poor network connectivity.
Making financial services approachable & understandable
Wave Money launched a suite of mobile financial services in Myanmar, a country where smartphone penetration is high and and financial inclusion and literacy is low.
With the support of CGAP, Small Surfaces conducted extensive field research throughout Myanmar using rapid prototyping techniques to deliver the complete design for an approachable and engaging smartphone application that would be appealing to Wave Money customers.
Delivering effective medical diagnostic tests in the last mile
Daktari Diagnostics developed an affordable, portable CD4 testing unit to help community health workers manage HIV/AIDS treatment in rural areas of low-income countries.
Small Surfaces worked with Daktari to ensure the testing instrument can be used easily by health workers (who often have very low levels of literacy) by designing an easy-to-understand icon-driven user interface for the device.
Re-imagining crowd-sourcing for flexibility & extensibility
Ushahidi’s community of users wanted to use the popular crowd-sourcing platform in novel and more sophisticated ways. To support this, Ushahidi decided to redesign the platform so that it was both extensible and more flexible.
Through international user research, design ideation and rapid prototyping, Small Surfaces re-imagined the user experience to transform Ushahidi into a more usable, useful and flexible system for both crowd-sourcing and interpreting data.
Creating a research collaboration platform to help combat disease
The World Mosquito Program research project at Monash University discovered a novel method to prevent the transmission of Dengue Fever and other diseases using the Wolbachia bacteria.
Small Surfaces led international user research and subsequent design ideation for an online platform to support knowledge sharing and collaboration between researchers as they ramped up their research efforts around the world.
Making complex messaging tools easy to learn & use
Many organisations lack easy-to-use tools that allow them to use SMS messaging to interact with large groups of people in sophisticated ways. FrontlineSMS had created a desktop messaging platform to address this need, and wanted to redesign their software to become both more broadly accessible and more extensible.
Through user research, design ideation, rapid prototyping and detailed design, Small Surfaces led a complete redesign of FrontlineSMS to streamline the user experience, and make it easier for its users to carry out more complex tasks with the software.
Helping rural communities respond to the threat of fire
In Australia, responding effectively to the threat of bushfire can be critical to survival. The state of Victoria wanted to create a smartphone application for people who live in high-risk areas to be alerted to and then effectively respond to approaching bushfires.
Using human-centred design methods, Small Surfaces led the design of a smartphone application that alerts citizens to fires by providing clear information that can be easily understood in moments of stress.
Why clients like us.
We’re experts in design for low-income countries
Small Surfaces’ rich project experience means we know what’s needed to create appropriate design solutions for people living in low-income countries.
We know how to do human-centred design across cultures
Small Surfaces has carried out customer research and human-centred design with low-income communities all over the world.
We always keep the broader view in mind
Small Surfaces always makes sure we’re working with a solid understanding of the broader strategic problems you need to solve.
We know it’s important to get down into the weeds
Small Surfaces knows that, in most design problems, it’s the details that determine whether or not a solution is successful.
We’re fun to work with
Clients like Small Surfaces not just because of our great results, but also because we’re enjoyable to work with.
We’ve got the right team for your challenge
Small Surfaces works with a network of expert partners, which allows us put together the best team for your needs.
Accolades for our work.
World-class expert in designing services for frontier markets
Very grounded, insightful and purposeful
Brought a unique perspective that helped us address real user needs through design in a way that truly broadened the appeal and usefulness of our platform
Excellent methodologies, a natural curiosity and a structured approach that has resulted in great outcomes for us
Strong advocate for the user and very sensitive to the needs of users across the spectrum of experience
Highly professional, collaborative and genuinely concerned with the success of each project.”