Robin Schreiner / writing

Balancing UX, Design, and Ethics in Digital Tech

In the age of mobile tech expansion, where time and focus are limited resources, ethical considerations become paramount. I want to talk about doing the right thing as we explore digital technology.

Balancing UX, Design, and Ethics in Digital Tech

In today’s fast-moving world, mobile technology is changing how we live, work, and stay connected. Our smartphones and countless apps are now a big part of our daily lives. But as mobile tech keeps growing, there’s a problem: we don’t have much time or focus, thanks to all the digital stuff around us.

I want to talk about doing the right thing as we explore digital technology. I’ll look at how we can make tech that’s both creative and good for people. I’ll show you how thinking about what’s right can help us use tech in a way that makes our lives better while keeping our time and focus safe. Join us as we learn how to make the most of mobile tech while keeping things simple and ethical for everyone.

What Do Ethics have to do with User Experience Design?

Professional ethics exists in nearly all fields, but how does is it in user experience design? What can designers do to provide users with products that put their interests up front. As UX and product experts, we have a responsibility to create products and services that are not only usable and engaging, but also ethical and socially responsible.

As a part of our work, designers “hack” into the thought patterns of users. The process starts by choosing which options are available, while limiting personalization capabilities. It continues through stages where the flow dictates the user’s actions using learning steps, incentivize behavior, reaching the point where the system benefits from predicting behavioral patterns.

Ethics in user experience design is not a set of fixed rules, but rather a collection of professional best practices help you improve your product for your target users.

There is a quote saying…

The area of ethics in user experience design lies on a scale that ranges from providing complete freedom for users, up to making all the decisions for them.

In this range, an ethical challenge comes in the moment, when we start making decisions that serve the interests of the system over those of the user.

Considering all aspects of ethics when creating a product can be challenging

Balancing user needs & business goals

UX designers need to ensure that they are creating a positive user experience while also meeting the needs of the business. This can sometimes create conflicts of interest, such as prioritizing design decisions that benefit the business over those that benefit the user.

Multiple options bringt the users freedom to act but limiting the user means preventing errors.

Here are some fields

Data privacy

Collecting user data can be important for improving the user experience, but it can also raise privacy concerns. Designers need to make sure that they are transparent about what data is being collected and how it will be used, and they must obtain user consent before collecting any personal information.

Dark patterns

Dark patterns are design choices that trick users into taking actions they might not otherwise take, such as signing up for a service they don’t need. UX designers must be careful to avoid using dark patterns, which can damage trust and harm users.

Bias in design

Another ethical challenge in UX design is the potential for bias to creep into the design process. UX designers must be mindful of their own biases and work to create products and services that are inclusive and accessible to all users.

Social responsibility

Finally, UX designers must consider the broader social impact of the products and services they create. This could include thinking about the environmental impact of hardware design, or ensuring that products are accessible to users with disabilities.


Designers need to ensure that their designs are accessible to everyone, including but not limited to people with disabilities. This can be challenging, as accessibility needs may conflict with other design goals.

Portrait of Robin Schreiner

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