LearnInclusive Design Series (4 of 4): Design Ethics

Hope Armstrong
writes on February 5, 2021

Designers, developers, and other folks building products have the power and responsibility to influence how products are made—this is Design Ethics. As you create products, consider: How is it impacting others? Who could be hurt by this product? Who does this product benefit? Reflect on the type of impact you want to have.

A Designer’s Code of Ethics

Mike Monteiro’s writing on ethics in the book Ruined by Design partly inspired this post. He wrote A Designer’s Code of Ethics which you should read in full, but I’ve summarized it below:

A designer is first and foremost a human being.

A designer is responsible for the work they put into the world.

A designer values impact over form.

A designer owes the people who hire them not just their labor, but their counsel.

A designer welcomes criticism.

A designer strives to know their audience.

A designer does not believe in edge cases.

A designer is part of a professional community.

A designer welcomes a diverse and competitive field.

A designer takes time for self-reflection.

This code of design ethics is a helpful way to check in with yourself and ensure you’re creating inclusive products. Conduct ethical user research, recruit diverse participants and accept criticism wholeheartedly. By widening your lens, you can create more inclusive products.

Hire, support, and amplify diverse voices

As you create products, seek diverse teams in environments that support diverse voices, especially in leadership positions. Diverse voices include: people who use assistive devices, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), LGBTQ people, those who learned English as a second language, and so on. Product teams with diverse team members can identify and solve problems that affect people like them, resulting in products that better serve a wider audience.

Other posts in the Inclusive Design Series:

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