Ethics in Design
Any serious examination of interaction design has to include a discussion of ethics. Ethics are what help designers distinguish between good and bad design. Ethics show designers how to respond when asked to do work that is questionable. Ethics are about the consequences of action; if there were no consequences to interaction design, there'd be no need for ethics. And with the dawning of the age of ubiquitous computing, RFID tags, mobile devices that can track our movements, and robots, wearables, and
Ethics are about human decision making: why and how we make the decisions we do. Ethics are about determining what is the right thing to do in the given circumstances. Design theorist Richard Buchanan has noted that this is what interaction designers do all the time: determine the right thing to do considering the given constraints. To design is to make ethical choices. In other words, design is ethics in action.
Being an interaction designer requires principles, because interaction designers help determine what the interactions between people
be. Should people be treated with respect? Are some people more deserving of respect than others? Are some people more important than others? Is it okay to make a product good for some people, but less so for others? Should the tools of design even be used on a particular project? These are the types of issues that, knowingly or (usually) unknowingly, interaction designers grapple with all the time, and they require principles on the part of the designer to
Principles for interaction designers involve a complex set of guidelines, including the personal beliefs of the designer, the codes of ethics of professional organizations such as the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), and governmental and societal standards for safety and usability. Without a firm set of their own principles, interaction designers can find themselves adopting the beliefs and values of the companies they work for, and this can be a dangerous course, as it was with IBM and Nazi Germany. There needs to be a balance between the ethics of the designers