Ethical design is something we don't hear or talk about a lot. Everything we create, or design has an impact on our lives and lives of other people. We shape our tools and our tools shape us. Let's talk about the good, bad and ethical design and other things we don't talk about, but we should.
Ethical design is something we don’t hear or talk about a lot. We usually talk only about good or bad design. Let’s take a moment and talk about the impact the things we design have on people who use them. This is a fact. Everything we create has an impact on our lives and lives of other people. We shape our tools and our tools shape us. We sometimes forget this. Let’s talk about the good, bad and ethical design and other things we don’t talk about, but we should.
When people talk about design, they usually talk about one of the two things, aesthetics or function. This is the general idea of design. Well, unless you are actually a designer. Then, it gets a bit more complex, and sometimes even tricky. Yet, the majority of people, for whom design is not their shtick, usually think about design in these two terms, aesthetics and function. What these terms actually mean?
Aesthetics is quite easy to understand. When we and other people talk about this, we usually talk about how something looks like. We talk about the appearance of some specific object. Something is pretty, nice, neat, beautiful or even exquisite. Something else is ugly, bad, terrible or even hideous. And, finally, something can be good, okay, enough or average. These are some of the terms we use a lot when we talk about the design in the terms of aesthetics.
As we all know, the aesthetic side of those things around us is not everything. Sure, it often helps us make decisions and judge things. We will rather buy, take, use or play with things that look good, instead of something we are afraid to even touch. You know, spiders. However, pure appearance is never enough. Well, some exceptions that worth mentioning can be galleries as well as some museums and exhibitions. Other than that, we look for more.
This more we are talking about is function. Function is actually very easy to understand as well. Function usually describes how something works, how well, how bad, or how it doesn’t work at all. When we talk about usability, we also talk about function. However, we should keep in mind that usability is not the whole picture. Usability is only one part of the story. Yet, people often use this term, function, to describe the degree of usability of a certain object.
Something is usable when it works and especially when it works well. When it works badly, or when it doesn’t work at all, it is poorly usable or completely unusable. Another critical condition of usability is how natural to use something is. If some object requires reading a manual before we can use it, it changes our evaluation of usability, for the worse. The same applies when something doesn’t require any instructions at all. Then, our evaluation of usability changes as well, for the better.
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