On the surface, graphic and UI/UX design are all about aesthetics. You need to entice your target audience to stop in their tracks to look at compelling visuals. However, there’s another layer to graphic and UI/UX design that designers consider, which you could talk to your designers about. It’s ethical design. But what is ethical design, and how will it apply to your business?

Table of Contents

  • What is Ethical Design
  • Applying Brand Values to Your Designs
  • Ensure Safe Usability Practices
  • Create an Accessible Website
  • Promote Diversity
  • Be Transparent
  • Consider Green Hosting
  • Prioritize Data Privacy
  • Allow User Testing
  • Integrate Focus

What is Ethical Design?

Ethical design refers to the practice of creating designs based on ethical standards and values to make the user experience much more meaningful. Designers work with clients to ensure that designs aren’t manipulative or deceptive to customers.

Applying Brand Values to Your Designs

Mission and vision statements are two important assets of your business as you launch it. However, there’s one more crucial aspect that you shouldn’t overlook: your brand’s values.

Some graphic or UI/UX designers go beyond the usual to ensure that your brand values are reflected in creating graphics and other visual assets. Adding your brand values to a design brief could guide designers on how to create visuals that match your brand. You can also follow the other tips below on how your designers can apply ethical design to your graphics or visuals.

8 Tips for Applying Ethical Design

Ensure Safe Usability Practices

Usability refers to how people will use your website or app. Usually, this applies to actual products or devices. However, this could also mean the usability of your website or app before users download it. It needs to be safe and without any life-threatening concerns. Ensure that any explicit material is hidden behind a censor or blurred. 

Create an Accessible Website

Accessibility is one of the major considerations for ethical design. Some internet users are people with disabilities, and you should cater to them, too, especially if they fall under your buyer personas. Most designers would work on creating accessible functions for users with disabilities. 

For instance, visually impaired people will use screen readers or magnifiers to help them navigate a website. Another way to help visually impaired users is by allowing them to change the website or app to a high-contrast option.

This goes the same for deaf-blind users. Some hard-of-hearing users can still see, even if they have some form of visual impairment. The opposite applies to visually impaired users with a degree of hearing impairment.

Additionally, those with a form of paralysis can access your website. They will use voice commands to browse your website. It’s important that your web developer and designer ensure that buttons, pages, and other elements are labeled properly so your users can navigate the site without any issues.

If you’re regularly publishing content on your website, make sure that the images have an “alt text.” The alt text describes an image. In turn, the screen reader will narrate this to a user.

Promote Diversity

Another way to apply ethical design to your brand or business is through inclusivity. Your brand needs to establish partnerships with modeling agencies promoting inclusive practices. Or, you could reach out to models or influencers on social media. Either way, make sure that your inclusivity guidelines are reflected in your design, too.

Inclusivity means there’s a diverse group of people that are “seen” or “visible” to your brand. For instance, if you are a US-based brand, you can include minorities in your marketing assets.

You can contact a web designer, webmaster, or marketer to help you publish images or videos presenting inclusivity.

Be Transparent

Deception is a big no-no when you publish content on your website. You need to be upfront with your visitors and customers-to-be when they navigate the website. Some business owners may inadvertently observe some deceptive practices, which could cost them some customers in the process. These are also called dark patterns. 

According to Deceptive Practices, here are the signs of dark patterns:

  • Comparison prevention
  • Confirmsharing
  • Disguised ads
  • Fake scarcity, social proof, and urgency
  • Forced action
  • Hard to cancel
  • Hidden costs and subscriptions
  • Nagging
  • Obstruction
  • Preselection
  • Sneaking
  • Trick wording
  • Visual interference

Expanding this further, persuasion is another point in ethical design that you should also consider. One way to describe this is by using the marketing funnel. For instance, once they land on your website, they become aware of your company’s existence. Then, they can consider it once they browse other pages. Finally, they can decide. Make sure that they are influenced to make their decisions rather than being forced to do so.

Consider Green Hosting

One way of becoming ethical is by using a green hosting site to become a sustainable brand. This applies to businesses that value sustainability and eco-friendliness. Since hosting requires massive amounts of energy to host thousands of websites, green hosting companies pay it forward by matching the energy consumption to planting trees or reducing carbon emissions through other power sources.

Green hosting will make your website a more secure and safe place for users to browse. Your UI/UX designers won’t have that much influence on this. However, your UI/UX designer can add a message to your website indicating that you’re using a green hosting company.

Prioritize Data Privacy

Many businesses rely on their legal teams to have data privacy policies or standards in place. However, graphic or UI/UX designers play a role, too! For instance, you need to include a data privacy policy and other privacy standard pages for some users to peruse. Additionally, your client’s web design should also indicate that the data being used will be stored or used for advertising purposes. You can use a pop-up to show this.

Allow User Testing

After working with your app developers and UI/UX designers, the next best step is letting users test your app before it goes live. User testing ensures that you can improve your app and that their feedback will be considered so other people will have a better experience using it. Moreover, this process will allow app designers and developers to solve any more issues that arise. This is part of the design thinking process, too!

Integrate Focus

Another aspect of ethical design is focus. As the internet introduces users to more content and apps, some of them can get addicted to them. As much as you want them to stay in your app or website, let them stay on those platforms for an ample amount of time. You want them to stay stimulated or calm without feeling drained as they move to another app or activity.