What are Fundamentals of Ethical Design?

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Design ethics is a concept that has been introduced previously in digital product’s, and it’s not new, but it’s fair to say it has never been more critical than it is today.

Designers must create experiences that are better than this. You may define ethics as moral principles determining good or bad. Therefore, ethical design is based on the intention to do good. Unethical design, however, is its black-hat counterpart. This article will talk about how ethical design can happen and provide a guideline for avoiding it. Also, you will learn more about the fundamental principles of ethical design that professional UX designers need to keep in mind.



What is Ethical design?

Ethical design means designing great products that reflect your values and principles. The impact of what you create, be it a website or a marketing campaign, can have ripple effects on people. As a designer, you should take full responsibility for your ethical actions. However, this responsibility is often passed on to others. Politics, culture, and society are changing the ethical and acceptable norms.



What are the principles of ethical design?

Many ethical design principles are based on respecting human rights, effort, and experience. They even have the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights as their inspiration. Aral Balkan’s pyramid “Ethical Hierarchy of Needs,” created by Laura Kalbag, illustrates the core of ethical design and how each layer of the pyramid depends on the one below it to ensure the design is ethical. Let’s take a look at some principles.



Usability is the key.

Usability is a fundamental key requirement these days. Unusable products are considered design failures. The design must be intuitive and easy to use, help users achieve their goals, meet their needs, and be simple and enjoyable. Here are identified five key components of usability by Jakob Nielsen, Nielsen Norman Group.

  • Learning ability – How easy is it to use for the first time?
  • Efficiency – How quickly can users complete tasks?
  • Memorability – What is the experience for returning customers?
  • Errors – How many and how serious are these errors?
  • Satisfaction – How pleasant is it to use this design?




Accessibility is another vital element that should not be an afterthought in product development. Although products are designed to serve the target customer, it is important to consider who might be (unintentionally) left out. These are often people with disabilities. For example, web design is not optimized for people with vision impairment. Although assistive technology is available to enable people with vision impairments to access the internet, many web design flaws make it difficult for them to do so.




Users expect transparency, regardless of whether it is one of your core values. Even though you may think it’s implicit, let’s examine the data. Empathy-driven decision-making is the best way to combat a lack of transparency. It is difficult to design misleading things when humans universally accept transparency standards. These issues can be eliminated by using usability testing and other design elements.



User involvement matters

The designer is ultimately designing for the user. It makes sense to consider the needs and ideas of users when designing. Your design will be a part of their lives; hopefully, that’s a positive experience.

Don Norman’s Human Centered Design is a philosophy that encourages the “active involvement of users” and helps to improve usability. Human Centered Design (also known as design thinking) is about how design can improve user experience. Small groups of user testing are the best way to study user involvement. This will reveal flaws and allow you to revise the design.




Digital design is a hot topic. With Alexa listening to conversations and Google tracking our clicks, Facebook reading private messages, and Google monitoring our clicks, privacy issues are always at the forefront of digital design. It is best only to collect information in the user’s best interests. This is an ethical design. Signal messenger is a good example of privacy, and it’s a secure mobile app that protects its users’ privacy.



How can you make a design ethical?

It is best to embed ethical design principles in your business. It would be better if you started with a clear understanding and intent. To get the process started, it is important to connect with the values and mission of the companies. This is a great way to challenge the client/company to live up to their promises. As a designer, you will help them achieve their mission.



Keep track of your assumptions.

It’s often our assumptions that cause us trouble. It’s easy to make assumptions about how the product will be used, especially if you don’t have any contact with users.



Consider ‘Dark Reality” sessions.

It is important to ask hard questions to find out your product’s weaknesses and possible consequences. This is an essential step towards ethical design. This practice is known as a “Dark Reality” session. Also, this technique is used to stress-test a concept by asking challenging questions. Dark Reality sessions can help you identify and address the weaknesses of your concept and create a list of questions and assumptions.



Although the ethical design is supposed to be the minimum, it becomes the highest standard of good design. UX designers and UX specialists are responsible for using ethical design practices to benefit our clients, our environment, and the people we work with and working human centered and asking why. This is our responsibility as the people who create products that are so deeply embedded in people’s lives. Our work can make a difference in people’s lives, for better or worse.

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