Just Published — New Smashing Book

The Ethical Design Handbook

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“This is the book designers have all been missing: a practical reference book on how to work ethically in design. Starting with the why — what does "ethical design" mean, and why this book is even necessary or important — the book easily morphs into the business value of ethical design, best practices in ethical design, and how you can influence positive change.”

Helle Martens, UX consultant

Ethical Design Handbook

About The Book

Over the past 20 years, user privacy has become merely a commodity on the web: there, but hardly ever respected — and often swiftly discarded. No wonder ad-blockers and tracking-blockers have gained traction, and in times when browsers and new legislation such as GDPR and CCPA introduce constraints on data collection, we need to learn how to craft better digital products without dark patterns: products that respect customer choices and are built and designed with ethics in mind. Jump to table of contents.

But how do we get there? Meet The Ethical Design Handbook, our new guide to ethical design for digital products, full of practical guidelines on how to make ethical decisions to influence a positive change without hurting the bottom line and help business grow in a sustainable way.

You'll learn how to:

  • explain what ethical design is
  • justify and prove a business case for ethical design
  • grow a sustainable business on ethical design principles
  • strike the balance between data collection and ethics
  • embed ethical design into your workflow
  • get started with ethical transformation

Shipping now. Written by Trine Falbe, Martin Michael Frederiksen and Kim Andersen.

Ethical Design Handbook, inner preview
The book features interface design examples that take ethical design principles into the account. Large view.
Ethical Design Handbook, inner preview
The Ethical Design Handbook explores alternative, compliant and sustainable strategies for ethical design. Large view.

The Ethical Design Scorecards

When writing the book, we've worked on a systematic approach to assessing the ethical level of products, businesses, and practices. The Ethical Design Scorecard comprises a variety of categorized assessment criteria, which have all been assigned a specific weight according to their impact on ethics.

The scorecard is not just a holistic tool. It’s a tool designed to surface exactly where a product or business does well from an ethical standpoint, and to reveal where improvements can be made.

You can download Excel scorecards (29 KB) for data collection, data storage, data processing, communication, governance, business, user involvement, UX/UI. Beutifully designed by Marie Guillemot.

Ethical Design Scorecards
Ethical Design Excel Scorecards provides a framework for evaluating ethical decisions in your projects.

Ethical Blueprints PDF

We've also prepared ethical blueprints for free download:

Table of Contents

The book has seven chapters:


The introduction describes the necessity of incorporating ethical design in the way digital businesses run. It also defines some key terms used throughout the book.

The Need for Ethics in Design

This section outlines some core consequences of unethical design, and it also explores some of the existing ethical design frameworks and introduces the notion of ethical transformation.

Creating Positive Change

This chapter explores how a positive change can be introduced in companies, teams and processes, including how to challenge decisions, ethical team governance and bridging ethics with risk assessment.

Respect-Driven Design

This chapter discusses and challenges how to involve users in projects, and it includes guidelines on how to design for the most vulnerable. Finally, it highlights some business perspectives of human-centered design.

The Business of Ethical Design

Let's dive into business. We establish why ethical design works as a business concept, and how we can use the traditional ways of measuring success to measure the impact of ethical design.

Ethical Design Best Practices

The chapter provides a set of practical guidelines on how to design good cookie disclaimers and terms and conditions, and how to handle data collection ethically. It also provides a set of specific examples of how to design user interfaces with ethical design in mind.

Getting Started

We wrap up the content of the book by offering a set of practical tips and specific blueprints to help you get started on your first ethical design project.

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Sign up to be notified when the book is available. Expected release: early March 2020.