Hands reaching each other.

Towards more ethical user experience design

This project presents a proposal on how to approach ethics in connection to user experience design. Creators of websites, mobile applications and other software products are, unfortunately too often, exploiting users for their own benefit; they take advantage of users’ behaviour, psychologically profiling users and adapting content based on this, primarily in the pursuit of additional profits for creators. Additionally, they disrespect and/or violate the privacy of users, tricking, and manipulating them through user interfaces, for the same monetary benefits.

It can also happen that users of UXD products are behaving in a way which could make an artifact harmful – by spreading false information across the platforms, bullying other users or abusing artifacts for their own benefit, among others.

The behaviours that are described above are, by common sense and ethics, not expected to appear in fields such as general medicine or psychotherapy, especially from the side of creators. However, UXD often seems  to still tolerate them, which calls for a more serious discussion about ethics in the field.

On the website you will be able to read more about the background of the approach to ethics in UXD, see the results, and suggested next steps. Besides opening the discussion on ethics in UXD, the purpose of publishing the content is also to invite experts from the field to comment and send suggestions for potential improvements. If you, therefore, have any ideas or comments on the content, you are very welcome to contribute.
This project uses virtue ethics as a basis for a discussion. Virtue ethics is one of the three contemporary normative ethics approaches, and the essence of it is focusing on the character of an agent, or an agent’s virtues. How would a kind, generous, fair, and generally benevolent agent act in a certain situation?
User Experience Design (UXD)
In short, UXD, means the design relating to how a person uses a certain product (e.g., mobile application, website).  Besides designing the visual look of the product, UXD is focusing on making the user experience as easy as possible.