(whooshing) - Welcome everyone, good to see you again.
Our first speaker is Anthony Shariat, he's a freelance designer, co-author, and co-host of a podcast, so in that order. He is quite a prolific design voice in California. We spoke earlier about what the point of his talk really is, and, as you know, the title is Tragic Design, and often we believe that good design is apparent and bad design always comes out to the fore, but that's not always true and he's gonna talk about how it can impact our lives quite significantly in physical ways as well as emotionally.
And maybe there's already a bridge to Wayne who's gonna follow him.
Often typefaces are defined by what is actually ink and what is negative space so maybe there's a connection to what Anthony is gonna talk about, sorry Jonathan, is gonna talk about in terms of that the bad design actually makes the good design come out and vice versa. So I'm looking forward to your talk, Jonathan, and please welcome him from California.
(audience applauds) - Thanks so much, thanks so much.
Well I'm so delighted to be here and I can see why you guys are all so just pumped about this conference every year. This is my first time but just everyone I've met it just it's such an electric atmosphere and that's really by a lot of the hard work that the organisers have done, so just quick round of applause for them.
(audience applauds) I mean it's just been fantastic, fantastic work by everyone involved.
So just real quick, g'day Web Directions, how are you? (audience laughs) Just wanted to relate to the audience a little bit, show we're on the same (chuckles) page here. So my talk is really CliffsNotes on my book, so you don't need to buy my book if you're here, so don't worry about it.
So I'm working with a book on O'Reilly, also have a co-author, Cynthia, and she's come on and really helped me to really bring this really important topic to the forefront of people's minds in our community and it's something that's not necessarily brand new, which is really interesting.
The more I would go back, I was like wow this is a reoccurring theme, but, it something that's more important today than it ever has been.
And the theme of this conference just really coalesces and really works really well with that notion. So I really hope that by the end of this talk, and this conference, that we really start thinking of our work differently and we really start having a different perspective on the types of things we dream of, and the types of things we make.
Also, real quick, if you wanted to read about it, you can throw on that hashtag as well, that'll help me out a lot.
And give me a follow if you're into that as well. Alright, so I want to start the way I started on this whole journey, and that was really with a story that was shared to me by a nurse and it's one of those things where it bothered me.
I don't know if this has ever happened to you. We read news, especially the last couple days, that really bothers us but there's some things that bother us and it just doesn't go away and that's when you know you're about to become an activist for something. Because I mean there's so many bad things happening in the world and they bother you but you move on but those things just stick in your mind and really just get you agitated then you know it's something that really is an intersection of what you're passionate about and the things you really believe in as a person.
So I call her Jenny, this is about a patient, so we don't really have her name or anything like that. But the nurse was sharing with me that she really didn't like technology, and of course I heard that, and I was like no no no you're wrong, technology is amazing, it can do all these amazing things and this was her story that shut me up.
(Jonathan chuckles) So a young girl, she was a cancer patient, and she beat cancer but had to come back, she has remission and she had a chemo treatment and that involves also very toxic medicine. And it requires 24 hours of hydration post having this medicine because it's so dehydrating. And the nurses that were taking care of her, if you have been to a hospital recently you notice that they're on their computers a lot because they're charting this.
They have to write notes about what happened, they have to order and receive orders for medication and a lot of different things.
So they were so busy trying to get this all to work and it wasn't working and it was so distracting that they missed it.
They missed the 24 hours of hydration and by the time the night was over she was dead. And that really bothered me because she was right, this was something that, one, that it's taking time away from their patient, they're on their computer. And also as somebody who believes in the potential of technology, right, that's why we're all here and why we care about what's next, that's why we care about the work that we do. Because we really believe technology has the potential to do some amazing things. Whether it's wowing somebody or changing the world, we believe in the potential of technology.
And so here it was not only doing nothing, like those cups and stuff that he showed were cool. They had some really smart technology but at the worst case scenario they just fall flat and they're nothing.
But here was technology that was causing harm. It was not in a neutral state, it was actually distracting and causing errors rather than preventing errors.
It was taking up more time from the nurses rather than removing the time.
And so this was the story that bothered me and I wrote this, I just didn't know what else to do, I just wrote about it on Medium and it blew up, and it was the number one post on Medium for the first day, and was on the top 10 for many weeks, and it blew me away. Just people from all walks of life, technologists like yourself, but also nurses and doctors, just saying yes, we need something better, we need something, we need a change.
And that's what's really got me down the path of, okay, well what are some other ways that design and technology impact our lives in very real ways.
'Cause I've worked in the software business for a long time and the worst case scenario is like oh, okay, so if we use this thing and people don't like it, worst case scenario, we're gonna lose the customer, we're gonna lose a little bit of revenue, worst case scenario.
So we can try it out, A/B test, okay, so let's try it out. But I started to see the world differently, like wow, okay what are some ways that design is really the crux of certain things, and I'm gonna go over a few of those with you. So I've broken it down through researching a lot of different types of ways and stories.
I've broken it down just like this.
Really they all interlap a little bit, like exclusion can be an injustice, but this is the way I've broken it down.
So we have Physical Harm, Emotional Harm, Exclusion, and Injustice.
And what I really tried to craft, as far as the examples that I'm gonna share today, are big broad ones that make it really obvious. But then also ones that you can implement in your work. So the first one is Physical Harm.
Of course we just talked about the story of Jenny. And the healthcare industry is huge on this but in the book I also talk about medical, airlines. I was thinking about that the whole time on the way here, it's a 15 hours flight, and I was thinking about the story of someone who typed in something wrong, that one of the pilots.
He needed a 3.3 altitude decline but instead he was in the wrong mode and he was going down by 3,300 and they hit a mountain. So I was thinking about that, please God have the design have improved since then because this is a long flight over the ocean. So there's a lot of really interesting ways. Another one which I actually feel inspired to share, I cut it out of the talk but I really was inspired to share after all the things we've really talked about. And it's funny 'cause it's not necessarily anything that we'll ever work on.
So anyone here work on cars, like making cars, probably not. (Jonathan chuckles) But the Ford Pinto, who's heard of that? Okay the Ford Pinto.
So the Ford Pinto just as a quick summary of this, is the the Ford Pinto is a car that was a mid-size car, and Ford was doing really well at the time but they had a lot of competition.
And so they wanted to make a sub-compact car that was going to be under 2,000 and weigh under 2,000 and have a lot of trunk space. Trunk space was their thing.
So the way that they got the trunk space to work was by moving the gas tank underneath.
And the reason I bring this up is not because of the design of the car, because as we all know, and it's famous for bursting into flames when someone rear ends you at less than 20 miles per hour. So and also the doors would jam.
So I mean just imagine that, the doors are jammed, the car's engulfed in flames, and it was a nightmare. And they knew this before they shipped out the car. And so they decided, looked at the numbers, and this is how they made their decision.
They said, okay, the cost of life by this, there was a previous court case, was $100,000 at the time. And we estimate that there'll be this many cases, and we'll get sued by this much, and the fix is this rubber bracket.
And the engineers were awesome, right? They came up with a solution, but it cost let's say $13, and they said no, okay, actually $13 over this many cars, we'll actually save money and we'll make more money by just getting sued and being okay with that. And I don't know, does that bother anybody to hear that? (Jonathan chuckles) Right? So that bothered me, I got really angry.
But I think with a lot of things is you have to go and say, okay, how can I really view the empathy, right? How can I really view their point of view? And so I really looked into this, and there's an economist, he invented this formula type of thinking, and he also was asked this exact question.
And his response was, well, if it cost a trillion dollars to put this in, could we do it? And essentially the argument boils down to that there is a cost to human life, alright, we can't make everyone starve for one person. And this was his justification.
And what bothers me about that, and what I see in a lot of companies, and maybe you've experienced something like this, is we start to justify our actions based off of these very simplistic formulas. For example, if you've ever had to work and you're asked to do something kind of uncomfortable to trick a user or to introduce a Dark Pattern, then you know what that's like.
And it's really okay we'll get this much money and we'll hurt this many people, but overall it's gonna be this improvement. And that's not the right way to think about it. And the way that I know that that's the wrong way to think about it, is they were wrong.
Right, they got sued way more, almost bankrupt Ford, and after they started scrambling for solutions, the engineers got that, just with a couple of weeks or I think a month extra work, they got that down to something cheaper.
So if they were willing to not accept that outcome, then they would've relied more on creativity and looking for other options.
So that's one thing I really want to quickly encourage you, not quickly, but really encourage you is start to look at these problems differently.
How can we really think about this and also talk to other people differently.
If we push harder, can we do something better? And that's really what this whole conference is about and this whole talk is about.
How can we look at our work differently? How can we view the world differently? And hopefully today, after my talk, you'll at least get the idea of how bad design affects our lives and how that shows the importance of good design. So something practical.
Ergonomics, right? So a lot of don't really think about this, we don't think oh I design software, I'm not ever gonna have to deal with the pressure like some people who work in healthcare.
I talked to one or two people who actually do work in healthcare, and that can be a heavy weight, but you actually do have a way to physically harm someone when you design something. And this is really interesting, so ergonomics. So if you've ever, who ever got scrolling thumb, where you just either have pain in your thumb or it just clamps up like this.
Anyone? Yeah, I mean it's something that we've all done. Or your wrist starts hurting, right? And there's actually something that happens, when people use their products, is they're physically interacting, especially with a mouse, or a touch.
Who's ever done VR and have gorilla arm, where you're just like this the whole time and you're just like, oh man, I can't do that for longer than five minutes. I need to work out so I can work on the computer. So the way that you can avoid harming people in this way is really understand this particular graph. And this is different, you can look it up online, Luke W. had some great screens but a lot of other people have it as well.
I got this one from A List Apart, which also has a great article about this.
But that there are some ergonomics.
So the red represents things that are very hard to read, something that's close to the thumb, far away from the thumb.
And as we know with a lot of the giant phones that are out now, they have things like double clicking and then you have to reach and it's just so clumsy. So really think about that when you're designing your products.
How is someone going to physically interact with it? Is it smart to have a lot of taps every single day that's in a hard to reach area? 'Cause that's gonna cause harm eventually.
Another one that is gonna be really big for everyone here is emotional harm.
And emotional harm is something that's really hard to really feel.
When you emotionally harm somebody else, it's really hard to feel the way that they do. We try to empathise but we can't never really feel the way they do.
But I like to give this example.
I'm a brother as well as many other things. And I like to think I was a pretty sweet brother, nice brother, right? But everyone knows that when you get bored, as a kid, all bets are off.
Like it's brother time, I have a job to do. (chuckles) So I would bother my sister and I wasn't physically harming her, right? I mean I even made that clear, I'd say, I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you, while getting in her personal space like to one centimetre, right? But of course after five, 10 minutes of that, she just would explode in tears and then all of a sudden I'd snap out of it and be like oh my gosh I'm so sorry. And it's really not until somebody breaks down or something absolutely terrible happens that we're willing to empathise with the emotional harm. And it's part of our products in really major ways. So if you saw the video, you saw Eric Meyer, and he had something happen to him while was on Facebook that he wrote about.
And maybe you've heard of this.
But he had a really tough year and his young daughter, Rebecca, passed away, and it was a really tough time for him and his wife. And when Facebook's Year In Review happened, they were really designing for the best case scenario, right? They really wanted to do something good.
They had no bad intentions.
And that's the scary part, is it doesn't take bad intentions to cause harm. In fact, sometimes it's even more dangerous to think only positively.
And so the designers working on this, they really thought about some really interesting things like how can we pull up and help people remember and celebrate life.
But they forgot that life sometimes sucks.
I had a really tough time this year.
I had a couple people close to me pass away and I can't imagine what this would be like to lose someone like your own daughter and to see something like this. So this was what he saw.
There's celebratory figures in the background. And that's really what it comes down to.
It's not the fact that even it was brought up, it was something that happened in his life, he posted it, he shared it.
But just that context was really jarring and it emotionally harmed him.
And it's not something he should of had to been subjected to.
If they would have given just maybe a little bit extra thought about what kind of things might happen to people. So for example, here's another one.
So this one had a friend die and there was a lot of information that they could have pulled about it. Death, and sad day, and things like that.
Even someone as a dog, a lot of us, even smaller things that seem small to some people can be really big, like someone's dog, is really important to them.
Or someone's house burning down.
(audience snickers and laughs) Yay, remember that? That was awesome! Remember when you lost everything? (audience laughs) (Jonathan chuckles) So that's something that we really need to think about is maybe when people use our software, things aren't gonna be the best.
And not only that but also sometimes we don't think about bad people.
Yeah, actually there's bad people out there. One of em's my president.
(audience laughs) You really have to think, people who work in game design, they know this really well.
I don't know what it is about the game design community, but we really struggle with that.
But you can really design around that by really holding people accountable.
It's been proven that people really can change their behaviour, you can really craft people's behaviour.
The game, League of Legends, they had a problem with player abuse.
New players would come on and they would just get slammed over and over again with cuss words, and you're terrible, and all this stuff.
And with a few changes with a little bit of text at the right time and the right place, they were able to curb dramatically their amount of abuse.
And Twitter is another one that really suffers from this and people get abused on there all the time. Especially women and minorities and things like that, and because the proper tools aren't in place, the proper design is not in place to protect people from that.
Pull from themselves.
I don't know if you've ever spent a lot of time with somebody and you see a different side of them, or even yourself.
They did a study where they put a bunch of strangers together in a simulation, and everybody knew it was a simulation, right? They said, okay, you're the jail people and you're the prisoners, and just do this for 24 hours. And 24 hours later the jail people were literally physically harming people.
And also sometimes it's the context in which we're put in, it really affects the way that people act.
And so if we design with that in mind that hey there's actually bad people out there. How could someone abuse this chat service in this kid's video game? You have to think about that, right? You really do have to think about that.
And so it what really boils down to is what I like to call Impolite Software.
So if you design your software to be impolite and rude, you're constantly causing this emotional harm. And this is more minute, this is more minute, but more frequently, death by a thousand cuts, right? So Impolite Software, I'll just read this off quickly. It pushes itself forward at every opportunity. It's gonna...
Clippy, not now, please! I'm trying to give a, yes, I'm giving a talk, obviously. I'm in the middle of it right now.
Please, just go away.
Sorry about that.
(Jonathan chuckles) Who remembers Clippy? Okay so what a lot of people don't know about Clippy is, is he was the product of a lot of user research, a lot of smart people at Microsoft, and it was addressing a real need.
So if you ever been starting a new project and you're like I feel good about this, like we actually have a good deadline, we've done user research, we have a really big need that's totally future. Like people don't understand how to use computers yet, okay, that's actually gonna help you.
You still might end up with that outcome.
You still might create the next Clippy and then you have to go, tired, and they'll be like let me look at your portfolio. And you're like, so I did this at Microsoft, worked on the Start Menu, and (mumbles) Clippy. And then I also worked on the...
(Jonathan laughs) But they did all of those things, but why didn't it happen? It's really the delivery.
It's actually an amazing technology, a lot of the technology we use right now, for AI, chat bots, a lot of if was really pioneered by Mr. Clippy and friends. Who remembers the Wizard in all the rest of 'em? Yeah! (chuckles) Or the little cute dog.
So it really, and you'll see this a lot of times with notifications, we get really selfish with notifications.
We try to get as much in front of the user over and over again, like, hey.
I hate Twitter, like every time, hey somebody liked your photo, hey somebody liked your post. Yes, okay I know, it's fine.
I can totally think about that later.
And they really just demand your attention until the point where you're like, you know what, I need another device on my wrist so I don't have to look at my phone so much. Because it's constantly going off and everybody's wanting my attention.
So it's impolite, it's a way that it's constantly saying, you know what my product and my motivations are more important than yours.
And just like we've been talking about this whole time is if you look at what we're designing here as far as the experience, and if it starts melting in the background and things like that, and you really think more about not, how do we push our goals forward, but what's the experience we want to create. How do we make it magic, how do we make it something useful. Then not only are we creating better products, but we're also avoiding something like this. It requires more than it gives back in return. So who's ever had a product that where it just feels like you entered into a relationship with this product, right? It's constantly asking you for things, it wants more information than it initially led on to believe, it's like a terrible date.
It just like won't go away.
At first you're like that was a great date, like I feel really positive about this.
You tell all your friends that this went really well. And then you go on the second date and you're like I've made a huge mistake.
(audience laughs) I've made a huge mistake.
Because that's what really we don't like.
When we meet someone like that in real life, it's a huge turnoff.
You're just like I don't wanna have to deal with those type of people.
And a lot of products do that.
They constantly want your attention, like we talked about in the first one, but they also don't really provide as much value as they're requiring.
For example you're signing up for a product, you're like oh yeah it would be really great to be able to, say share this tweet, in a different way.
And then they're asking you for your home address, they're asking you for user name, create a secure password, it's gotta have all these requirements.
Listen, I don't even care anymore.
I don't even care anymore, I just wanted to quickly send this thing.
So make sure that you're actually giving the user more than you're taking in return.
It also gobbles up resources.
Developers are really passionate about this 'cause it feels good, you actually have a number, there's very few things in design and development that you just, as far as outcomes, that you have a number. But speed is huge and it's also data use is huge. Dropbox sometimes will, especially in the past, would totally bog down your computer as it synced the thousand files you just put in.
All of a sudden your computer is shaking and starts to sound like it's a aeroplane about to take off, like a drone or something. (chuckles) Because it really is just thinking about okay, this is what I need to do, and I'm gonna do it. And they're not thinking about how it's gonna affect the user.
It's gonna slow their system down.
A lot of countries, they still get charged for data. I mean actually even in the United States we have a lot of carriers like that.
So really thinking about that, wow, okay how do I take off some of that load and not charge somebody more money.
It feels free to interrupt the user at any time, it does not respect the user's preferences, oh jeez, I hate this one.
So just like Mr. Clippy.
Even if you dismissed him he'd be back.
With Facebook for example, if you say I really want these privacy settings, for example, one thing Mike Monteiro talks about is someone who didn't want to reveal that they were gay to their family yet, and they wanted control over that, and they made it very purposeful.
It's not that they didn't even take time to understand, they did.
They took time to understand, they tried to understand, they tried to set up their settings correctly. But because it wasn't designed with harm in mind, they ended up revealing something when they posted something in a private area. And that's a real harm, that's real life, and that's something that we should really think about and care about.
And when we're designing something, we're brainstorming, we're thinking of all the amazing things that our software can do, we really have to think about the bad, the ugly, the ways in which our product is really gonna affect this person's life.
Uses patronising tone in dialogues.
Are you sure? (Jonathan chuckles) Every time I spell something wrong in Google, which is often, which is half the reason I use Google, is like a spell check 'cause other programmes are like, I don't have no idea.
And then Google has huge servers, and they're crunching numbers, I probably take up a whole server room sometimes. They're like I think he means this city in Australia, maybe? I don't know. (chuckles) You guys have some cool names here.
(audience laughs) But it's very patronising like did you mean this? I already felt stupid not knowing how to spell something like specific or something. And then all of a sudden it's trying to judge me, or Clippy, as well.
I don't know, I thought you were, did you mean to write a letter? I can help you 'cause you obviously don't know what you're doing.
(audience laughs) And last but not least is the Dark Patterns. Who's here has heard of Dark Patterns? If you haven't, please go to DarkPatterns.org and get an idea because, man, if you're a designer, you're gonna be asked to do at least three of these. (Jonathan chuckles) Just really quickly you have something called a roach motel, which it's really easy to get in but hard to get out. In the America we have Comcast, it's a cable Internet service provider type thing. And if you try to cancel, I actually started documenting this 'cause I'm a designer and I care about these things. So I knew, I'm obviously tech savvy, I researched what's the best way to cancel, so I did homework, I knew it's a problem, I heard from other people.
I had previously experienced it in the past. I had a lot of, I had a good thing to go, I'm gonna go on chat instead of call, I'm gonna tell them them exactly what, I'm gonna tell 'em I'm not even moving, I'm just moving in with somebody who already has Comcast. It was a white lie, it was a lie, I'll be honest. I just knew that were gonna be like well, you could move your Comcast or you could tell them to buy Comcast, so I was just like okay I'm going somewhere that already has Comcast.
And it took me three hours.
First of all I couldn't find the chat.
It was just totally hidden, and then once I did, they just would not let it go.
I even just told them, no, I wanna cancel, no I wanna cancel, they already have it, they already have it, and they just kept on pushing it. So easy to get in, hard to get out.
If I had known that, well I had no choice, 'cause it's a monopoly but whatever.
(audience chuckles) Who remembers the early days of LinkedIn and just overall who hates LinkedIn, just real quick? Yeah they get that a lot, they get a bad rap. (laughs) So this is my personal story on this one.
So when I first joined LinkedIn, I was like this is great, I love the idea of this, it's a resume that's online, it's living, people can find it, they can research it, I need this.
So I joined and they said hey why don't you see who you already know at LinkedIn? I was like that's a great idea, LinkedIn, and wow it plugs right into my Gmail, I just put in my password, and wait, what just happened? It just emailed everyone I've ever emailed. Because it was taking all my contacts, and in Gmail, that's just anyone you ever sent something to. And it sent an invitation from me to my old professors, and teachers, and random people I used to know in high school, and all this crazy stuff.
I mean at this point in time I had this for like six years, this Gmail account.
And I had people even responding to me, like customer service from Adobe, I don't really know you, do we know each other? (audience laughs) And I was like, we could if you give me a discount, I don't know.
(laughing) And so that, I remember just feeling so mad, like I felt cheated, I felt taken advantage of, I felt really bad.
And that's why I continue to post bad things about LinkedIn. (audience laughs) And like I mentioned before, like Brianna Wu and many other advocates for change online, especially for women and people getting abused. They got literally a threat and Twitter didn't do anything about it and this is still an ongoing problem. And it's starts to choke your community, it'll start to choke.
There are other consequences to these decisions, it's not just the harm. If the fact that just ethically, this is wrong, and that doesn't really move you, there are a lot of other consequences that might happen. Like in the Ford example it almost bankrupt their company. LinkedIn, they got sued for millions of dollars and if anything else comes around, we're all ready to go, right? We're like, where do I send that, we're ready, I'm ready, let's get LinkedIn out of the business. There's a lot of other consequences.
I really wanted to go deep on that, but I really just wanna go on the ethics, just on the ethics, we need to do the right thing. So a lot of people will advocate tell your boss that you're gonna lose money on this. Sometimes you might gain money and it might actually last. And you can really push back with data, you can push back and show that it's not the best practise, and past examples, which you can find a lot of those in the book still.
But just ethically I think should be enough for us. Alright another area which is really important to me is Exclusion.
And in Australia, there's over 357,000 people who are blind or have low vision.
So people who have a lot of trouble reading text or can't read text at all.
And worldwide you have 285 million, and 39 of those million are completely blind. And it's not just even blind, it's actually, I mean, I talked to elderly people all the time, I talk to people who are just straight middle aged and their eyesight's bad, it's a common thing. And a lot of times designers who are, especially who are young, or really think, who really are into our own kind of styles and things, we don't think about other people that well. One interesting thing we talked about in the podcast recently is the dangers of empathy. A lot of times when you think you're being empathetic, you can actually be transcribing your own feelings and thoughts into that empathy, and so you have to really focus more on your research and things like that.
And a lot of times we don't really think about how other people use this, how do people in other countries might use this, how people who have low vision might use this, and this is a really big need.
In fact, this graph changed my mind, so I want to share this with you.
If you follow me on Twitter you've probably already seen this, but, so this is worldwide.
So blind and low vision people, there's more blind and low vision people on the Internet than there are Canadians, or Italians.
That's pretty mind blowing, isn't it? Or even Mexicans, there's just so many and yet we totally just don't even think about them when we design. We sometimes can work on its accessibility, but we don't think about how that actually works out. There's a great illustration of this.
I don't know if you, has anyone ever actually seen a screen reader in action? Oh wow, that's, you guys are awesome, I usually don't get that many hands.
Yeah, it's really eye opening and really with Alexa and Siri and things like that with speech, and the example of the ears in the subway, that is the type of things we need to move towards. But in the meantime we really have to work on creating accessible content, which not only helps our own HTML, our own search engine optimization, but ethically is awesome.
So definitely start thinking about that because also if those numbers weren't big enough for you, think about this.
Four billion people aren't even online yet. And so that means that they're gonna have systems that aren't quick, that have very low bandwidth, they might be in different context than what you're designing for, you might have to design an SMS chat bot in order to help bring health care to maybe some people in remote villages.
There's a lot of interesting things we can do with the four billion people who are gonna come online. So we're just getting started.
What's next? This is one of the parts of what's next, four billion people.
And so we have to create content that's fast, we have to create content that works for other cultures, other types of people that we're not used to even designing for yet.
Another thing is we all have bias.
This has been really hard for me and also really eye opening, was when I brought my co-author on, she's a woman, and I had a section about women. (chuckles) And she's like this is BS. (laughs) She's like I see what you're getting at, this is actually pretty much BS.
And it was really cool, it was eye opening. We all have bias and here I am, I think I'm an advocate and I have tried to support many of the people that I work with.
And yet there was still a lot of bias in my own self. So that's the hard thing about bias, is literally the definition, you don't know you have it, right, it's a bias. It really takes a lot of introspection and I really hope that I can challenge you guys today is really start looking at what are the biases that I hold onto? For example, in America right now there's a lot of untapped, unrecognised bias.
When I really talk to people you really realise that maybe we're not over racism yet.
Maybe actually we need somebody to do some work on that. And I look to myself and I say wow, yeah there is some places that I really judge people in certain ways.
And it takes a really, an honesty to say, okay yeah, maybe I actually don't treat women the way that, completely equally.
Maybe there is some preconceptions there or yeah, maybe when I see this type of person, I judge them, I think they're gonna act this way.
I was just talking to someone over coffee today and I was telling them about my wife, she's a nurse. And my wife doesn't seem like the type of person who would be very studious and knowledgeable. And her friends, too, all her friends at the nursing programme.
I totally would have judged them if I met them in person that they're just these, I don't know, ditsy or whatever, and they just love to go out and party and I would've totally judged them.
But these people are super smart, you have no idea what nurses and doctors go through to treat you.
I mean I thought I knew, but man, having gone through it with my wife, it's just, it's immense.
And these people have to know, not only know an immense amount of complicated things, but have to have incredible work ethic.
And that's something that I had to honestly say, that yeah that was a bias of mine, and really be honest with myself.
And the way that comes out in our work, and who's seen this. As a designer you have, I just literally I was like I need a example for this, so I just went on ThemeForest, and I searched WordPress and I went to the very first one. So this is, you'll see this a lot on my WordPress themes, and things like that, is we like to, designers or even Dribbble, designers love to just put the best case scenarios, first of all, we love to think of just all the wonderful things you have, models, and we have wonderful vacation photos. That's fine if you're gonna sell it, especially when you're concepting and prototying it, it's good to put some real data in there.
But anyway, a lot of times we have these business things but it's just these objectified women that there's like, I'm going to work, but I also look really cool and sexy. Or they show off their app and the app is of this woman usually super sexily clad and she has a profile on their social network or something.
And it's just something that we really don't think about but especially when these show up in templates and in our sales pitches and things like that, you're telling, if a woman came to this page, and let's say you changed your content to your business, you're saying to the women you're not really welcome here. This is not your type of thing, this is a boy's club. Or I remember the first time that I felt about that was I went to a conference and it was all women. So I do some volunteering, and it was all women, and I was like, I kept looking at the thing. I was like is this a women's only thing, like no I couldn't volunteer, I just, but it was just all women.
And at that point I understood what it's like to really feel excluded.
So I'm gonna quickly go through this, This is another thing.
Sometimes we have bias that comes up in really small ways. Male versus female, does that make sense even though it's not alphabetical? Another thing is Injustice.
So there's a really cool project that's happening right now and it's actually going through a lot of things, but I remember myself.
I got a parking ticket and I had the money, I had everything ready to go, but I couldn't understand the sign and I got a ticket. So what this one designer has done, is she's gone through and redesigned it and done guerrilla testing.
This is so cool, I love stuff like this.
Guerrilla UX, let's just go out there and vandalise stuff and make it better.
(laughing) There's a really good 99 percent podcast on that, too. But it's actually getting implemented.
Los Angeles, and many other cities around the United States, they're actually implementing this.
And so there's stuff that you can go do, open source projects, or you can go straight up and fix the sign and make it more readable, whatever you want to do that you can contribute to. In the United States, I went through and tried to get help on different things, this one is food stamps, or nutritional assistance, and I, for the life of me, couldn't figure it out on some of these systems. Also I had to help my friend's parents to schedule a way to go see him in prison and it took me, again, like an hour and a half, and I can't imagine if they didn't have my help what they would have done.
And there's also all this red thing, to see every, they're gonna sue you, you might go to jail if you do this wrong.
(audience laughs) I mean telling me they were so scared, it was really sad to see.
They visit him every single weekend for the past five years and just imagine them not being able to do that, they would be devastated.
And this is, oh my gosh, this was even before anything happened, I actually worked on this about a year ago and I added this in.
But this could affect the fate of a nation. Al Gore and George W. Bush, it was down to literally 500 votes in Florida. And this was a huge issue.
This is the butterfly ballot, I don't know if you guys follow our elections that closely but we had this huge issue called the butterfly ballot where you had to poke a hole in it, and you see all these weird arrows.
You're not sure where to poke and a lot of people either poked a wrong one, or they realised their mistake and they poked two, and which is a throw out, your vote doesn't count anymore. So because of bad design, somebody voted wrong or their vote wasn't counted. That's injustice, that is wrong.
And that's something that we really do need to think about when we're designing.
And government, man, they need your help.
I went on your guys' government websites, I mean, after looking at our own, I was like this is good, this is good stuff.
But I'm sure you guys all hate it and it's an area that we really need more people to tackle.
So altogether I just want to say how important design is. Think of design differently, not that it's important because you're a critical part of your team, and your team's success, which you are, and which design is.
But bad design shows us just how important it is. There are places where people and technology and other people's goals intersect and whenever those things happen, whenever you have somebody and somebody else and you're trying to interact, design is always involved in that little layer and we try to make it as good as possible.
But that layer isn't just neutral, it isn't just about making it easy, it's not just about making it interesting, but it's about you can also do harm, and it's about thinking of things in that context that life isn't always great. Life sometimes gives you a trump, (audience laughs) sometimes life is hard and you really have to design for all of those things together.
So what can you do? Number one, look for jobs.
The next time you're looking for a job, you don't have to look right now, look for jobs at less exciting areas.
Healthcare, education, non-profit and government. These are areas that desperately need your help and usually when people are looking for jobs they're like oh I know that, I use that, I wanna go and use that and all my friends know about that. And it's great when you can say oh yeah I work at Twitter or I work at Uber, or something, and it's really nice, or Google, and people they're like oh wow, you do, I know them, I use them all the time, that's awesome. And it's a great feeling, but if you want some low hanging fruit, if you want to make some huge change, these are areas that need people who are passionate about making change.
And that's you.
Also think about ethics and stand up for them in your workplace.
Be difficult, that's what I say in the book, is you really just have to be difficult.
If someone says, I don't know, it's fine, we don't have time for this, like no no no no, no we're fixing this, this is important.
And it really comes down to what do we really believe it? What kind of company are we? What are our beliefs? And really standing with those and I think that also makes the most powerful companies. Also consider the bad, just like I said, bad life experiences, bad people, and bad outcomes. They're all possible and we need to design for them. Last thing is donate your skills.
You can actually contribute to a lot of non-profits. I talked to a couple people who do that.
There's also online hack-a-thons, I was recently was involved in health++.
Just things that allow you to donate your time and really start moving those things forward. Healthcare, education, government and any non-profit. Last but not least, and this is poignant as ever, go out and vote.
There's a lot of actual design legislation out there. How usable do we make things? What do we demand of our government that we can interface with it in a proper and non-confusing way? We have to demand that of the people who are organising us and vote for that.
And really get out and don't be silent.
I think that's a really big thing with the United States right now.
I think a lot of people just didn't get out and vote or didn't be proactive enough to really advocate for change. And that's it for me, thank you guys so much, I really appreciate being here and hopefully we'll have time for a few questions. (audience applauds) - Thank you, thank you Jonathan.
Unfortunately, look at this, I've had allowed (Jonathan laughs) 10 questions that I would have liked to ask you but unfortunately you have filled your time to the max. - Alright.
- So I ask everyone to grab a bit of time with Jonathan afterwards in the foyer.
Just one last interesting thing that I thought about. MVPs, we're always building MVPs.
Do you think there's a room for a minimum inclusive product or a minimum just product, just something like this? - Yeah I love that.
I think it really comes down to that, the point where we're really dreaming about things, of how things might be received.
We really have to start thinking about the way that it might fail, I mean is it just another good one, and also the way that it might affect people's lives. - Excellent. - Yeah.
- Thanks again. - Thank you.
- Round of applause for Jonathan.