Ethical Dilemmas in User Experience: YOU are the Judge

Short summary: This interactive talk presents and discusses a number of ethical user experience design dilemmas

Length: 45 minutes.

Summary: What would YOU do if your boss asked you to design a system with one or more unethical features? Can you recognise unethical design requests and unethical UX techniques?

This interactive talk presents a number of real-world examples of ethical dilemmas that Rolf has encountered in UX management, UX design and usability testing. Participants will be able to indicate their opinions on the dilemmas through voting using their smartphone.

The talk demonstrates that ethical dilemmas often creep in unexpectedly in disguise, and that they are often brushed away simply because they are inconvenient.

A video recording of this talk is available (28:10)

Target group: The talk is aimed at people who design user interfaces.

The audience votes and comments on the dilemmas..

Sample dilemmas:

First dilemma: You are designing a voice interface for a new startup, which is currently in beta phase. In the last usability test, 2 out of 20 test participants failed to complete a key task due to the voice interface. All other stakeholders who observed the test agreed that it was due to the participants’ funny accent.

The next day is sign-off for the product. The director of the project asks each stakeholder if the product is ready and they all reply “YES”. You stand to lose a $10,000 financial bonus if you say “NO” and delay the product release. 

Do you bring up the potential technical defect and ask for a delay in the product until you confirm your suspicions?

Second dilemma: Your company, which is located in London, is facilitating a usability test for a US client. The client has sent one of their UX professionals to moderate the test. You have recruited participants. Your role during the test is to take notes.

During the first test session you notice that the client’s moderator asks leading questions. She also repeatedly deviates from the agreed test script and provides clues for solving the usability test tasks. You and your colleagues are seriously concerned that the findings are invalid.

Do you voice your concerns to the moderator?