Let’s look at some examples of how we can use the ethical framework during a planning cycle.
You are part of a design team and just beginning your planning. Your team’s goal is to help make the user experience better – via back end software development, User Interface design, better application of branding, etc. Specifically, your team needs to allow people to stop using the application, such as a logout function. Your team designs a series of mockups that uses brand colors, but the beauty and elegance of your design also makes it hard for the user to understand what to do.
Clearly, your design needs to be rethought. Let’s apply our ethical framework to help.
Our framework asks:
- Is this work (project) illegal in any country?
- Does this work respect the dignity of all people?
- Is this work something that is sustainable?
- Does this work foster transparency, and honesty?
- Does this work require people to think about potential harm or good to them?
- Can I do this and tell my family about it proudly?
- Can we describe the balance between good use and harm?
- Does this protect and respect the moral rights of our customers, users, vendors or employees?
- Are we treating everyone fairly?
You can answer positively to all the questions – except one. You haven’t fostered transparency and honesty (#4). Your use case is not going to work.
But your brand rules are clear – you have to use the branding colors, logos, etc. The marketing representative on your team doesn’t want to change anything.
You should treat this small setback in planning like any other obstacle; work on it together. There are many ways to solve this, enjoy the creative process as your team fights through this.
This simple example doesn’t restrict your design – you could just as easily had a roadblock that is much harder to solve, ie performance or cost issues.
By using our framework you have a simple tool to test for ethical design. Remember, it has to be easy and part of a normal process if it is to become embedded and used regularly.