An award for Excellence celebrates groups whose projects follow the spirit of humanity-centered design and provides evidence of great potential to make a substantial difference to the lives of the community for which it is intended. This recognition rewards the excellence of the project and its future potential for addressing one of the United Nations 17 major sustainable development goals.


The award labeled Promising is a special acknowledgment for groups whose project demonstrates great potential, but that has not yet reached the level required for the award of Excellence. Groups that are promising are encouraged to continue their work with a high likelihood of achieving Excellence in coming years. This accolade recognizes the seeds of excellence and serves as positive encouragement for continued growth and development.


The Education awards are for any traditional or non-traditional programs that have demonstrated successful training in humanity-centered design. Recipients of this award are recognized for their pivotal role in cultivating a new generation of leaders poised to positively impact our global community. The Education award is of critical importance in encouraging a changeover from today’s design practices to that of humanity-centered design.



Projects must state which of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals they fit https://sdgs.un.org . These projects can take many forms, from physical devices to software to changes in organizational structures. The key is that they must significantly enhance people’s lives. We require that the project has been implemented and tested within a community to document its benefits. While we do not require a large-scale project, we do require a significant impact that can be measured through monitoring and surveys. To ensure success, we recommend setting clear goals beforehand and gathering baseline information before introducing the project.

Award Applications Guidelines


  1. Solve the core, root issues, not just the problem as presented (which is often the symptom, not the cause).
  2. Focus on the entire ecosystem of people, all living things, and the physical environment.
  3. Take a long-term, systems point of view, realizing that most complications result from the interdependencies of the multiple parts and that many of the most damaging implications upon society and the eco structure only reveal themselves years or even decades later.
  4. Continually test and refine the proposed designs to ensure they truly meet the concerns of the people for whom they are intended.
  5. Design with the community, and as much as possible support designs by the community. The professional designer community should serve as enablers, facilitators, and resources, aiding the community to meet their concerns.

This brief excerpt from Chapter 22 of Norman’s book, Design for a Better World: pp. 181-186 explains the difference between Human-Centered and Humanity-Centered Design:

Thank you to all the 2024 Don Norman Design Award applicants. The applications are now closed, and we will announce the result in summer. Stay tuned for more updates!