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Didier - An Edutainment-based Human-Centred Design Project

Didier - An Edutainment-based Human-Centred Design Project

Didier is a human-centred design (HCD) activity seeking to engage and promote dialogue among young men working in the informal sector of the economy and their partners about contraception and family planning (FP). Initiated by and Population Services International Côte d'Ivoire (PSI CI) in 2017, the HCD project or intervention prototype is being tested at small scale in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. It uses dramatised storylines distributed via mobile messaging and Facebook, as well as Facebook interactions and interpersonal communication initiatives, to reach young men aged 15-24. The objective is to see whether combining interpersonal communications along with a social media based story could be an effective way to engage these men as users of contraception, as partners, and as agents of change with regard to FP.

Communication Strategies: 

As explained by, HCD is "a process that starts with the people you're designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs. Human-centered design is all about building a deep empathy with the people you're designing for; generating tons of ideas; building a bunch of prototypes; sharing what you've made with the people you're designing for; and eventually putting your innovative new solution out in the world."

"Human-centered design consists of three phases. In the Inspiration Phase you'll learn directly from the people you're designing for as you immerse yourself in their lives and come to deeply understand their needs. In the Ideation Phase you'll make sense of what you learned, identify opportunities for design, and prototype possible solutions. And in the Implementation Phase you'll bring your solution to life, and eventually, to market."

Following this process, the team conducted qualitative in-depth individual and group interviews and observations with young men, young women, community leaders, parents, and healthcare workers and bosses, as well undertaking desktop research. Based on this process, eight insights and four behavioural archetypes emerged that provided the basis to prototype the Didier social-media-led approach.

The eight insights were as follows:

  • Having more sex is young men's number one goal.
  • Growing up among unspoken expectations, no one is equipped to talk about sex.
  • Young men emulate their bachelor bosses, but dream of a traditional future.
  • HIV matters, but pregnancy is not a young man's problem.
  • Young women want condoms, but only men can carry them.
  • Contraceptive methods aren't relevant - and risks are an afterthought.
  • As relationships progress, young men's supportive behaviour often turns coercive.
  • Women are becoming aware of their desires, and young men are curious.

The eight behavioural archetypes developed were the Hustler Boss, Oblivious Playboy, Honeymooner and the Curious Virgin. Men were also generally revealed to be the inhibitors of FP, whereas the goal of the project was to engage men as enablers of contraception use. The focus was, therefore, on engaging men in gender sensitisation and dialogue in order to shift their behaviours towards more supportive reproductive choices for themselves and their partners.

To meet this objective, the team choose to link dating advice to encouraging supportive contraception behaviours - delivered via an ongoing interactive story. Research had shown that young men are excited about women and relationships, but not really interested in sexual health or contraception. The choice to focus on dating was therefore considered a good entry point to sensitise young men about the benefits of supporting their partners' needs and reproductive choice. As research had found that mobile phones are ubiquitous among young men working in the informal sector in Abidjan, it was decided to deliver Didier content through daily messaging. The two suggested mobile phone delivery channels were WhatsApp and short messaging service (SMS, or texting).

The PSI CI team worked together with local writers with experience in developing content for youth to develop the Didier story and characters. They then tried out Didier on a small scale as part of the live prototyping process where concepts get tested and refined before a real pilot. For this part of the process, the team developed a Live Prototyping Playbook [PDF], which details the mechanics of each element of the programme, the questions to ask when trying them out, details on how and when to roll them out, and how to get feedback and responses from the community. The project used a tiered roll-out approach, starting with the lower-touch digital touchpoints (SMS and Facebook), and only later introducing the higher-touch events into the programme.

The Didier story is the heart of the programme. Didier's story tagline is "What will he do next?" Throughout the story, Didier engages in sex and relationship dialogues with two strong women: Grace and Anna. Their interactions present Didier with questions on contraception use and how women should be treated. Didier seeks advice from Joel and Yves, who give him contrasting opinions: one is gender aware, the other is gender blind.

Through SMS, Facebook, and events, the audience follows along with the story and can vote on how it progresses at key moments. When the story progresses toward gender-blind and irresponsible contraception choices, Didier experiences the serious consequences of his actions. When Didier makes good choices, he experiences success. The plot is iterated as the story progresses to resonate with the audience's opinions captured in polls, while always keeping a gender-positive narrative. By monitoring the audience's vote, the project also observes change in gender sensitisation and contraception choices over time.

Throughout the prototyping process, the project included the following elements:

  • Messaging - The story of Didier is delivered in 160 characters every day via WhatApp or SMS, hopefully creating suspense and drawing in readers.
  • Live show - Young men can meet Didier's characters and chat with positive role models about sex and relationships. Discussions are also facilitated by live skits based on the story and characters.
  • Facebook - This platform offers a fun space to chat, ask questions, and learn from positive role models through Didier-themed content.
  • Comics - Following the SMS-based stories, a comic book story using the same characters and story approach was developed and published on Facebook in a series of ten episodes. Based on the success of the first series and guided by insights gained from feedback, a second series was developed in 2019.
    1. Click here to download the Didier Comic 1 [PDF].
    2. Click here to download the Didier Comic 2 [PDF].
  • Community mobilisers - They walked around working class communities of Abidjan motivating young men from the informal sector to visit the Facebook page and follow the story. Phone numbers were collected for a database to continue interaction and engagement via SMS.
  • Social media coordinator - This person followed all comments and questions closely, positively reinforcing gender equality and condom use and correcting misconceptions. The coordinator also responded to any questions related to sexual and reproductive health (SRH).

Click here [PDF] to find out more about the HCD process, and how the brand, characters, and storylines were developed for Didier.

Development Issues: 

Sexual and Reproductive Health, Gender, Youth

Key Points: 


Reasons why Transform/PHARE chose to reach out to young men in the informal sector:

  • 31% of the entire population of Côte d'Ivoire is made up of youth, and those between the ages of 18–24 make up 14.6% of the informal sector, while men aged 25-35 make up 43.3% of this sector.
  • 55% of young people between the ages of 15 and 19 are at high risk of contracting HIV, among other risks of having unprotected sex.

Outcomes and results from the project:
Results from initial testing of this strategy showed good promise in terms of audience engagement and reach and its ability to spark discussions, though with some challenges and lessons learned. Analysis and observations based on user involvement and data collected on the Facebook interaction process have provided insights such as:

  • There is considerable interest in the story, mostly from young men (most of whom are from Abidjan).
  • It seems that many of the followers are boys in school or in higher education.
  • It is not possible to find out how young men from the informal sector have been involved and whether the story is having any influence on the intended audience.
  • Although baseline and follow-up data were gathered and analysed, Facebook followers participating in the polls are not representative of actual Didier story followers, and certainly not representative of the intended audience.

Nevertheless, "Facebook seems to be a very effective platform to motivate dialogue with adolescents and young men and has proven to be thought-provoking and engaging. While it has its limitations in allowing us to target a very specific audience, such as boys from the informal sector, it is nevertheless an effective way to engage young men."

The project will continue to look for different ways to engage young men in the informal sector, with plans to also start Club Didier to facilitate more group discussions about the issues raised in the Facebook story.

To learn more about the outcomes and achievements of the Didier social media initiative, see "Didier: Engaging young men in the informal sector Abidjan" [PDF - December 2018].

Partner Text: and Population Services International Côte d'Ivoire (PSI CI), with USAID funding.

Contacts (user reference): 

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