Responsibly Shaping the World

Yesterday, I watched a talk by Mike Monteiro entitled “How Designers Destroyed the World”. I don’t know Mike personally, but I’ve always been enthused by his honest and abrasive style. You can see it in everything he touches. This talk is no different. Do yourself a favor, carve out 45 minutes of Twitter nonsense, grab a coffee, and listen in earnest. After you do that, come back here and my thoughts will have some context. Also, I have donuts.

Mike is totally and completely right. So why does it sound so different? I think it’s because we know what responsibility is, but we don’t have the backbone to fully stand behind it. I’ve made many of the mistakes he points out, taking work that “just pays the bills” and letting bad design decisions be shipped due to fear of the repercussions. And it’s all bullshit. Responsibility isn’t something to think about when you’re older, it’s just a lot easier when you’re established. We need the young and enthusiastic designers to have it, too. Otherwise, companies will be irresponsible on the backs of young and “happy to be employed” designers. They’ll just churn through you.

Basically, have a backbone. Don’t think you know everything, that’s not the same. Be smart. Stand up for what you believe in, admit when you’re wrong, and be an advocate for your audience. Designers are one of the only groups that can directly stand up for users. Just remember, it might be your mother, husband, or best friend on the other end of the screen.