Designing with, not for

Ethics in user research // DesignUp, 2019

Commercial agencies and studios, especially those specialising in human-centred design, rely on user research as an invaluable part of their practice. However, unlike participatory research which, when conducted in academic contexts is necessarily governed by institutional ethics, industry-based user research traditionally has not been conducted in accordance with any explicitly defined ethical frameworks. 

Visual recording of the session created by the super talented Tanvee Nabar of Ladyfingersco

This conversation is particularly vital in India as we consider the needs and practices of the demographic that is referred to as the “next billion users.” We need to learn about and address issues regarding user privacy and data, which have become especially urgent in the light of controversies raging around violations regarding human rights caused by designed technological interventions.

To this end, we conducted a workshop at DesignUp to involve stakeholders in this conversation and to work together to create a platform to discuss and formulate a code of ethics for user research that is aimed at serving for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises. The workshop was well attended, with participants from companies and organisations working in a range of areas such as DNA collection, disability and fintech. We have a working document in place to continue this conversation and would love to hear from anyone who would like to contribute and participate.

  • Thanks to The Hard Copy who covered our work for their series The Next Billion Stories. You can read a version of our article, ‘Ethical Research for the Next Billion Users’ here.