Design Ethics – the term that has been around for a while now. But what does one mean by Design Ethics? Let’s see
“It guides how designers work with clients, colleagues, and the end-users of products, how they conduct the design process, how they determine the features of products, and how they assess the ethical significance or moral worth of the products that result from the activity of designing.”
Concerns around ethics have always been plaguing the tech world, right from privacy to impact. Ethical designs stem from just being the perspective, goes all the way into the very core of the process. It makes the whole development more tuned to humans, and receptive to needs. To put it short ethical design includes user experience and more.
Why is design ethics important?
Take a deep breath and look around – the sheer number of design interactions that we have today has exploded exponentially. It translates into competition in our works. Yet the more vital question is, what makes a design interaction most memorable for you? For example, if you witness a well-intended cartoon and a widget that switches between currencies on an e-commerce website – which makes a better impact? Even the answer is both, you might remember the widget over the cartoon, since it saves some precious minutes before checkout, aka 'problem-solving'. It comes down to thinking about the absolute end-users and making an impact.
Beware of the Design Ethics Bubble
Ethics stretches far more the designing. It percolates into the benefits, the socio-economic and cultural climates of the organizations, state country and the world.
As we focus on Design Ethics, it is important to include designers in the ideation process. It is not only crucial but will also enrich the idea with the expertise. Having designers also helps to make communication easier at a later date.
There are many certifications on design ethics in the market. It becomes tricky since the topic of ethics has always been subjective and is deeply affected by personal bias. No man is free from bias, but as designers, it's vital to be aware of them. Subject to individual interpretation, the grey area got a whole lot more complex than a simple good or bad.
When one takes on holistic approach to design, knowing the ethics can highlight some previously unseen aspects of the product or service that is being designed. This might reduce the chance of the product or service resulting to cater to the needs that it was originally not created for.
What is the prescribed code of ethics?
There are many codes for design ethics. Each organization amends or adapts them to suit culture and ideology.
- You (designer) are human.
- You are responsible for your creations – no matter what.
- You must think community than cleverness.
- Have a say in the product or service – design more than just producing the idea.
- Be open to criticism.
- Know the end-users and your clients – make designs responsive to both.
- The more the merrier – enjoy the competition.
- Return to your product or service – reassess and understand how to build it further.
The code of ethics would guide any designer or design organization bell the ethical design cat. Awareness that some creations might be used to manipulate and thinking through the impact is important. It strengthens the design by adding the various elements needed to protect interests.
Remember that despite best measures, an ethical design can be used for ”unintended” purposes too. These understanding of Design Ethics can be applied to anything – right from content, to posters, websites, podcasts, app, IoT etc. It is crucial to reflect upon this read, and apply as it suits you.
Happy Ethical designs!