Be the Villain

Web Design

Design & Dev / Web Design - 30 Views 0

Eric Bailey asks us to take on the role of King Herod in our projects to consider how the products, services and processes we design could be abused to cause harm rather than to do good. No matter how good our intentions, we must remember that not every user has pure motivations and that every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.


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Inclusive Design is the practice of making products and services accessible to, and usable by as many people as reasonably possible without the need for specialized accommodations. The practice was popularized by author and User Experience Design Director Kat Holmes. If getting you to discover her work is the only thing this article succeeds in doing then I’ll consider it a success.

As a framework for creating resilient solutions to problems, Inclusive Design is incredible. However, the aimless idealistic aspirations many of its newer practitioners default to can oftentimes run into trouble. Without outlining concrete, actionable outcomes that are then vetted by the people you intend to serve, there is the potential to do more harm than good.

When designing, you take a user flow and make sure it can’t be broken. Ensuring that if something is removed, it can be restored. Or that something editable can also be updated at a later date—you know, that kind of thing. What we want to do is avoid surprises. Much like a water slide with a section of pipe missing, a broken flow forcibly ejects a user, to great surprise and frustration. Interactions within a user flow also have to be small enough to be self-contained, so as to avoid creating a none pizza with left beef scenario.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to expand on this practice. Watertight user flows make for a great immediate experience, but it’s all too easy to miss the forest for the trees when you’re a product designer focused on cranking out features.

What I’m concerned about is while to trying to envision how a user flow could be broken, you also think about how it could be subverted. In addition to preventing the removal of a section of water slide, you also keep someone from mugging

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