The government of Products
Product design – UX design
Being a designer means influencing your user to do the right thing – or at least to do the right things in the product you designed.
But let’s make a more general and bolder statement: designers are influencing users.
And because most of us want to solve real users’ problems – as we all should – we’re trying to make users’ lives better. When we’re lucky enough to succeed, then we’re definitely changing people’s lives. Our products do.
But let me ask you this: what are the traditional external elements of your life that influence you to do the right thing, or to lead a better life? Laws and religions. Culture and society.
I would argue that, over the last decade, digital products and apps have been much more present in the everyday lives of a good chunk of the globe than those traditional safeguards and, moreover, have gained a rather big influence on the population in general.
It’s now clear that we are forging the society that we’re living in: fake news, superficiality, anxiety around social media presence, the fear of missing out…
It’s time for designers to embrace this role more openly.
You, as a designer, have the chance and responsibility to guide humanity: help people make the right choice, be better human beings. And just like any lawmaker, sometimes this goes against your users’ will.
While designers can produce apps or products that are either beneficial or detrimental to users, it’s a two-way street: users can decide to choose which ones are good for them and make them better human beings. It wouldn’t be wise for designers to invest in a product or technology that they know is harmful in the long run. I believe users will one day realize and reject such a product, the same way they can elect a new lawmaker or change the guardian of their morality.
So the next time you make a design decision, I challenge you to go further than your users’ problems or your company’s business goals: how can you make your users better people by using your product? Decrease their stress? Be more focused on what really matters? Open their mind?
With such a noble task, the possibilities are endless.