Ethical design is an approach where designers should take when planning their design. This involves their responsibility towards the design process, the end product, and its effect on users, as well as designers’ moral behavior when crafting their design.
Or, you could say - creating good design with good intentions from the beginning 😉
To ensure that a design is ethical, we could refer to the ‘Ethical Hierachy of Needs’ pyramid created by Aral Balkan and Laura Kalbag (Source: 99designs.com).
Let’s learn the 5 ways to implement design ethics:
Be transparent Highlight about your product/design benefits to the public. Inform your users, how to use the product, why your product is designed is a specific manner, or what are the main design features that would benefit your users the most compared to other product competitors. Educate your users and be transparent about your design to build trust and relationships with your users.
Avoid misleading information Providing misleading information will not only damage your design reputation but also could cause outrage from your users as they might feel they are being scammed by your product.
Basically, you are lying to your users. Do thorough research before you share any information with the public. Be honest about what your design could not do. You might be worried that this will send your users away, but this highlights your integrity as a designer.
Protect your users Test and re-test your design for any faulty features that could risk your users’ privacy data and other types of risks.
Ensure that your design does not have the probability of putting your users in danger.
For example, protecting users’ emails and phone numbers.
Clearly state Disclaimers and Policies Take steps ahead by providing disclaimers and policies to prevent issues in the future.
Clearly state your policies on the website. Use the right font size for your users to notice the rules they should know.
Do not torture your users by using small fonts or design your product disclaimers and policies that are difficult to read and find on a page.
Provide accessibility and inclusivity Create a design that welcomes people from different backgrounds and different abilities to use your product (whenever possible).
Study cultural sensitivity. Interview people with certain types of disabilities and use the information to create your design accordingly.
If your design does not provide accessibility and inclusivity to a group of people, it does not mean that your design is unethical. It just means that your design could not be used by certain groups of people.
If there is an opportunity or ‘space’ in your design to be more accessible and inclusive, use that chance to assist more users with your product.