Customer Experience & Design

Designing with intent: connecting purpose-driven mission with human-centered design

Written by Pim van Helten on 1, Math 2024

In today’s environmentally conscious and digitally connected world, customers are no longer looking to just buy goods or services—they crave more from brands.

They’re increasingly drawn to brands that prioritize sustainability and deliver on their promises to create a positive impact, while also empowering their customers to make a difference in their own lives and contribute to a sustainable future.

Just to be clear, this movement towards sustainability is not a passing trend. It’s a fundamental change in customer behavior, driven by a deep-rooted concern for the well-being of our planet and future generations, refusing to turn a blind eye to the fact that nature is in trouble. 

With this shift, it's crucial for brands to back up their talk with action when it comes to sustainability. Human-centered design provides a powerful approach to guide this shift, embedding sustainable practices in the experiences we create.

Blijdorp’s journey to an impactful future

Known as Rotterdam Zoo, Diergaarde Blijdorp serves as a great example of how human-centered design can drive the ambitions of a purpose-driven conservation powerhouse and actively involve their visitors in their mission. 

In today’s landscape, societal expectations demand that institutions like zoos commit themselves to the greater good and towards a more urgent calling – the state of nature. With an increasing emphasis on sustainability, brands face growing pressure to adopt sustainable practices and deliver experiences that align with values and expectations of their customers. 

In response, Blijdorp has embarked on a transformative journey that seeks to have a far greater impact on our future. Blijdorp now positions themselves beyond that of a traditional zoo, that prioritizes species conservation and nature restoration.

This evolution marked the rebirth of Blijdorp as a purpose-driven organization, with a bold new vision that delivers exceptional, personalized, and educational customer experiences (CX), while committing to protecting wildlife and preserving nature. 

But how? Enter human-centered design.

Dive into Blijdorp’s full-scale transformation

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What is human-centered design?

Human-centered design is a time-tested approach that, surprisingly, still doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves. It’s all about an empathetic process that delves deep into what truly motivates people, placing their desires, dreams, and daily experiences at the heart of every solution. 

This results in products and services that not only seamlessly align with the user but also create meaningful experiences that enhance satisfaction and engagement, ultimately leading to stronger and more sustainable success. This, in turn, fosters a better personalized CX, driving higher profits and distinguishing your brand from competitors.

For instance, Blijdorp employs personalization by offering visitors unique experiences based on their interests. Whether it’s creating tailored educational programs about specific animals or habitats, or providing interactive tours that highlight conservation efforts, Blijdorp engages their audience in a deeply personal way. 

This dedication to personalization not only enhances the visitor experience but also strengthens the visitor’s connection to nature and Blijdorp’s conservation mission.

Designing with purpose

Today’s customers have a clear expectation – they desire meaningful, interactive, and accessible experiences that not only offer entertainment but also serve as a source of education and inspiration.

When revamping Blijdorp’s digital ecosystem, it was essential to create a future-proof website and an app rooted in what their customers want most: interactive, accessible, educational, and purpose-driven experiences.

Digital transformation meets a roaring purpose

Read on

Education is at the heartbeat of Blijdorp's mission, and their digital platforms march to the same tune, by offering captivating stories about species and how visitors can contribute to the well-being of our planet. These digital touchpoints are the most important platforms for Blijdorp to build a strong and lasting connection with their supporters and deliver memorable experiences. 

Furthermore, accessibility and inclusivity are a big factor in these touchpoints. Blijdorp, in their mission, wants to empower everyone—no matter their background, age, or ability—to become advocates for our planet. These elements create a smooth user experience (UX) for all of Blijdorp’s visitors. Take a look for yourself – happy discovering!

The power of storytelling in building connections

It's one thing to guide visitors visually through a website using strategic layouts, colors, and typography, but the true impact lies in weaving a narrative through these elements. 

Storytelling is an important way to communicate your mission in a way that is understood and embraced by your customers. For Blijdorp, it’s an essential tool, not just for generating impact within the confines of the park but especially beyond its borders. 

The role zoos play in species conservation and nature restoration requires clarification and explanation. Through storytelling, Blijdorp can effectively highlight their efforts and actions, while simultaneously motivating their audience to contribute to making a difference.

Building a sustainable tomorrow

The seamless integration of sustainability and human-centered design isn't merely a concept—it's a dynamic force that drives progress and innovation. 

As an agency fortunate enough to collaborate with Blijdorp, we've witnessed firsthand the transformational potential of this synergy. It's not just about meeting sustainability goals; it's about crafting immersive, purpose-driven experiences that resonate with both the audience and the environment. 

The personalized touch we've brought to Blijdorp's digital ecosystem, the compelling narratives we've woven, and the educational experiences we've fostered are testaments to the power of this approach.

However, as we navigate the challenges and misconceptions surrounding sustainability, we're reminded that this isn't a one-time effort; it's a philosophy deeply rooted in our commitment to a better future. By tackling these head-on, we've not only helped Blijdorp but have also strengthened our belief in the power of purpose-driven work.

All that being said, the dynamic duo of sustainability and human-centered design proves that it's not just about being driven by a purpose greater than ourselves; it's about actively creating experiences that embody that purpose. It's a journey we're proud to embark upon as we continue to craft strategies that thrive in the present while leaving a lasting mark on the future.

Pim van Helten

Pim van Helten


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