Review on "The Ethical Design Handbook"

A look into "The Ethical Design Handbook" and how it will be a great resource for both designers and product managers alike

A photo of the ethical design handbook
Photo credits to Kim

I've just finished reading "The Ethical Design Handbook" published by Smashing Magazine. When I purchased the book, I really didn't know what to expect from the contents of the book.

Depending on your experience level in design, the start of the book may feel superficial and overgeneralized. As the book progresses, however, the content definitely becomes more tangible and actionable for readers of all experience levels.

The book covers various use cases and covers aspects of work culture, managing teams and business strategy. These topics are not something we shy away from as designers but definitely allow for a broader audience. In that case, I also highly recommend this book to business leaders and team managers.

Throughout the book, various frameworks are given to help kick-start your journey into ethical design. Although I have finished reading the book, it is now one I will consider as a great reference for the future.


This is my first book review on my blog (of hopefully many more to come), and with each, I will share a few takeaways to help give further insight into the contents of the book.

Your products privacy policy

The topic of privacy and data usage is a common theme throughout the book, however, one quote stuck with me:

If the press published your privacy policy, what would be the reaction?

A great gem to live by when building a product. If a company will suffer backlash and resentment for having the privacy policy dissected and publicly shown, it's probably time to rethink how your business deals with its users.

Product growth

At some point, most businesses get bought out or invested in. With investors always comes the drawback of requiring growth.

We adopt growth for the sake of growth

All too often our users become data points, those data points turn into revenue, and revenue comes back to the product as business-centric, not user-centric.

As a business grows we need to remember, it's the users that helped us succeed, and it's the users we need to care for. That's not to say we don't have business goals, but we need to find the right balance to not alienate our users.

Technical difficulty

Finally, one topic that is often a challenge between designers, developers and businesses is the difficulty of development:

Basing decisions on your feeling or by ease of technical development doesn't serve your users.

Many times we take the faster route to develop a feature, this often causes legacy code later down the road and sub-par user experiences.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to adopt an ethical design process to their work environment and product. If you already practice ethical design, it's a great reference and resource to use to further your development in the are

Meet “The Ethical Design Handbook”: How To Leave Dark Patterns Behind — Smashing Magazine
Meet Ethical Design Handbook, our new practical guide on how to influence a positive change in your company and help your business grow sustainably. Without dark patterns, with ethics in mind, and ready for GDPR and CCPA.