Although at first sight, ethics might seem to have very little to do with design, the truth is that designers should always give it some consideration. Going to whatever length necessary to create a great design that sells products is not always the way forward. Rather, there should be more focus on serving people’s needs, making a difference towards the better and protecting the environment.
Serving People’s Needs
Being able to distinguish between what users want and what they actually need is essential for designers. An ethical designer should help serve people’s needs, not try to sell products and services that don’t serve any purpose. Naturally, finding a balance between keeping the customer happy, making a profit and offering users something they need is the best way to proceed.
Protecting the Environment
An important question to ask yourself during the design process is whether what you’re creating is ecologically ethical. Is what you’re promoting respectful towards the environment or is it adding to its gradual destruction? Are you working towards solving the problem or are you adding to it? Designers should also be able to distinguish between what is truly environmentally-friendly and what merely pretends to be.
Keeping Design Open to Everyone
While designing, it is important to keep asking yourself whether you’re reaching out to a wide enough range of cultural backgrounds. Your designs should be as open as possible, even when you’re addressing a specific audience. Discrimination and prejudice have no place in ethical design.
Paying Designers a Fair Wage
Are you working alone or with other designers? Everyone in your team, whether their designs are selected by the client or not, should be able to make a living thanks to their skills and hard work. Encouraging and rewarding time spent working by paying your team a fair wage is crucial when practicing ethical design.
Stepping Into the User’s Shoes
Try to step into your user’s shoes and reflect on whether you would like to use your own design. Is it something that you would feel proud to see used worldwide? Is it safe or could it be misused? If there is even a slight possibility that it could be misused, then it’s up to you to prevent this from happening in any way you can.
As a designer, you may not always realize that you have a responsibility towards the people and the environment, but making the right choices when designing is hugely important. By practicing ethical design, you will ultimately set yourself apart from competitors, as well as secure a solid reputation in your field.