10 March 2006

Design for social justice

Be the first to share
putting people first
by experientia

Core77 just published a highly recommendable thought piece by the Design Council’s Jenny Winhall on the power we have as designers in shaping the society in which we live.

It is a strong and well-crafted article that describes many of the reasons why I (and my partners, I may say) am involved in user experience design and are so enthusiastic about it.

Jennie Winhall, who is a senior design strategist for RED, the social and economic ‘do tank’ within the UK Design Council, claims that when one seriously starts reflecting on the many ways that design governs us, we realise, that design and therefore leadership are value-based. Designers and leaders shape preferences.

Politically speaking, design can exclude or include all manner of people in all manner of ways throughout society. Design is political because it has consequences, and sometimes serious ones.

The power of designers is that we can design things to have different consequences. The crucial and political question for designers becomes "how can we use design for social justice?".

Nowadays the world of design is changing. Design used to be done by specialists for users. From now on, in a growing number of fields, design will be done with users and by them. In this context, the designer is becoming the facilitator–the enabler–rather than the dictator of what people themselves want to do.

At the same time there has been a shift in conventional politics; a realisation that top-down policies no longer work, and that public services in particular must be redesigned around the user. Conventional policy makers are not readily equipped to do this. Designers are.

Winhall then highlights the values of user-centred design, which she describes as a "political standpoint in itself" and she goes on to say that "participatory design work, if done well, can be fundamentally democratic, giving ordinary people a voice and an opportunity to influence outcomes."

At the Design Council they call this approach transformation design. It is the design that facilitates collaboration between designers, policymakers, economists,  social scientists and ordinary people in order to solve complex socio-economic problems.

Read full article

Be the first to share
Related Article
27 February 2015
Steve Portigal’s insider view of corporate user research
The acclaimed UX researcher Steve Portigal hosts the DollarsToDonuts podcast series [iTunes | Twitter] where he talks with the people who lead user research in their (corporate) organization. Six programs so far: Carol Rossi, Senior Director of …
Related Article
24 February 2015
5 imperatives of user experience design in mobile health technology
David Lee Scher, MD - Owner & Director, DLS Healthcare Consulting discusses what he thinks are five important issues in achieving the ideal mobile technology user experience, specifically for those technologies hoping to enter the …
Related Article
24 February 2015
“I’m divorcing my Nest thermostat”
Kara Pernice, the Managing Director at the Nielsen Norman Group, was a proud early adopter of the unique, cool, and pretty Nest device: "It helped me save energy, and communicated to me. But things went …
Related Article
24 February 2015
How do people save/share/revisit on mobile devices?
In early January, Mozilla UX conducted user research to refresh their understanding of how people save, share, and revisit mobile content with the goal of building a knowledge base for a larger contextual research project …
Related Article
23 February 2015
Changing behaviour for a better deal? Not as easy as it sounds
There are many areas of life - e.g. utility providers - where we could be getting a better deal by making what seems to be an easy switch. Behavioural scientist Nathalie Spencer of The RSA …
Related Article
22 February 2015
The Emergence of Law and Behavioural Science: A European Perspective
The Emergence of Law and Behavioural Science: A European Perspective by Anne-Lise Sibony (Université de Liège) and Alberto Alemanno (HEC Paris; NYU School of Law) February 16, 2015 Introductory chapter to the forthcoming book: Nudge and the Law: …
Related Article
20 February 2015
[White paper] Digital assurance: Reaching a seamless customer experience
Digital Assurance: Reaching a Seamless Customer Experience by Shawndra Hill (Wharton professor of operations and information management) and Kumudha Sridharan (vice president and global head of testing services at Wipro Technologies) White paper produced by Knowledge@Wharton and …
Related Article
11 February 2015
The Internet of Insecure Things
In a recent study, every connected home security system tested by HP contained significant vulnerabilities, including but not limited to password security, encryption, and authentication issues. HP's Fortify on Demand security service assessed the top 10 …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

1 January 2015
Happy Playful New Year
21 December 2014
Experientia’s Twitter feed live

Experientia has now its own Twitter feed. Four months of Putting People First posts and other links have already been uploaded. If you followed Experientia on Twitter through the feed of its CEO, Mark Vanderbeeken, make sure to now also follow the company (but don’t unfollow Mark, who will keep on tweeting away). And while […]

19 December 2014
Putting People First blog redesigned

Experientia’s Putting People First blog has been redesigned. It is now entirely responsive, allows for easier browsing, searching, and filtering, and features larger images on the posts. The entire history of posts remains accessible as before. We are still tweaking things and welcome any feedback.

27 November 2014
Why the world needs anthropologists – an update

Why the world needs anthropologists – Coming out of the ivory tower Location: Padua, Italy, Centro Culturale Altinate/San Gaetano Date and time: Friday, 5 December 2014, 13:00 – 18:00 Padua, Italy, 5 December 2014 – The second edition of the international symposium of applied anthropologists attempts to erase the boundary between ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ anthropology, […]

30 October 2014
The BancoSmart ATM by Experientia for UniCredit selected for ADI Design Index

Last year Experientia designed the interface of an ATM of UniCredit, a major Italian bank. The interface is now rolled out across the bank’s ATMs in Italy, to great satisfaction of the bank and the customers alike, since interaction speed is much faster and error rates went down dramatically. Last year UniCredit and Experientia also […]

29 October 2014
Experientia at EPIC: UX transforming a financial institution

In September 2014 Experientia gave a presentation on working as UX professionals with financial institutions at the EPIC conference in New York. The paper is now available on the EPIC site in HTML and PDF versions (free registration req’d). Abstract Application of a user-centered approach rooted in ethnographic methodologies facilitates a major European bank’s transition […]

See all articles