Design Ethics: Getting Grounded


I was lucky enough to be able to give a presentation to the Experiencing UX – Central Iowa meetup group in Des Moines, IA on April 18th, 2018. While I have given many presentations before, they were always in the context of a particular project I was working on so having the freedom to choose my own topic presented new challenges.

The presentation is linked here but I will provide a brief synopsis of why I chose this topic and how I presented it.

I decided my topic should be on Design Ethics as I had been reading several different articles at the time and had some experiences that made me start to think about the ethics of design. There are so many fantastic talks and articles on design ethics already that I wasn’t sure where to begin but the one item that kept coming to my mind was, how would I define my own code of ethics? So I designed my presentation on giving a brief introduction to design ethics and examples from my own personal experiences to get the group really thinking about what matter to them in their designs and life and to start thinking about creating their own code of ethics.

The goal was to just get a start to a code of ethics as it would take a long time to really feel like you’ve articulated what you felt was most important and I only had around 40 minutes. So I created a sheet for my listeners to fill in and after the first part of my talk asked them to pick from that list two negative questions (as it is sometimes easier to articulate about what you DON’T like or value than what you do).

After they had recorded some of their thoughts about their first two questions, I asked them to consider three different ones in turn, each time giving examples from my own personal experiences, “What lessons from this experience should apply to my future conduct? To jobs, companies, or industries I want to work for?”, “What lessons from this experience should apply to my future conduct with other designers and my role in the industry?”, and “What lessons from this experience should apply to my craft and the users I am designing for?”.

Once the group had analyzed their written thoughts on each of those questions we spent a little time looking for the overall pattern in what they had written down. My own personal statement was,

“Nobody is worthless. People and their experiences deserve to be treated as valuable, no matter how small the interaction.”

This was very abbreviated analysis but I feel each participating user valued the time spent analyzing their own thoughts, experiences and feelings to come up with at least one firm statement about how they want their designs and life to work. I enjoyed creating this presentation and look forward to continue to explore and improve my own code of ethics as my life continues to present me with new knowledge and experiences.