Purpose – This paper aims to inform and improve the quality of electronic products and services by outlining an approach to ethically grounded design. Design/methodology/approach – A number of design disciplines were investigated using desk research and also learning from experience in commercial design practice in the mobile phone, Internet and software industries. Findings – It is suggested that design “scripts” specific behaviours with either good or bad results. Scripts have a behavioural element and they define the physical, social and individual impact of products and services. This suggests that designers should be aware of the impact design decisions have throughout the product lifecycle. In order to achieve this, three ethical design principles (situated research, reflexivity and participation) are proposed to frame ethical design practice. Research limitations/implications – It is suggested that measuring impact alone is insufficient to minimise harm caused by electronic products and services. Instead, research should focus on positively informing design through actionable results in the participatory design tradition. Conversely, design needs to accommodate research into measuring the impact of products in order to deliver long‐term benefits to users rather than perpetuating passive consumption. Practical implications – The paper provides an overview of methods for value‐centred interaction design based on the analysis of alternative approaches to ethical design. Originality/value – The research in the paper spans a number of related but heretofore separate disciplines pertinent to deepening design thinking. These disciplines are critiqued on the basis of their appropriateness and applicability to an ethical design approach and the concept of scripting, used in traditional design, is applied to interactivity. Lastly, three new principles are proposed for ethically grounded design.
Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 21, 2008
Keywords: Design; Ethics; Electronic equipment and components; Social values; Interactive devices
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