The Dark Side of Design — 2 Must Read Books to Show You How Design Can Go Horribly Wrong | by Jamieson Silver | Nov, 2022

Photo by Ana Itonishvili on Unsplash

Regardless of what you design as a designer we have a lot of influence over the world. It is something that does not come up in daily conversations, but everything in this world good and bad was designed by someone. Understandably, we focus on good design that helps businesses and people out, but that’s not what we are going to talk about today.

Let’s talk about the dark side of design. I’m talking about designs that have malicious intent for the user like stealing your credit card info and designs that caused general chaos due to just terrible design. Being someone who enjoys a good dark tale I hope to turn this into a small series of articles that discuss dark designs. To start things off I would like to recommend two good reads that discuss this very topic.

Should designers take a ethical oath like the Hippocratic Oath? Designers have just as much power to cause harm as a doctor so why is this a thing. This is one of several compelling points that Mike makes in this book.

After reading this book you can see the logic behind Mike’s argument, he points out a lot of the F*** up things huge companies have done regarding design. Were these F*** ups by mistake or by design? That’s a scary question to ask, but Mike tackles it head on with the bluntness of a log.

This book was the first book I listened to that opened my eyes to the dark side of design. Mike does a really good job of driving home the fact that as designers we have a lot of power over the world.

We must be aware of that power and how it can be used to cause harm and good. He also goes into detail on how to identify when outside factors are trying to push you and your design into a dark place and how to handle that.

My main takeaway from this book is that we as designers need to know that our designs carry a certain level of morality to them and how that impacts the world. We must champion good design over bad design at all cost in order to keep it all from going down the drain. So, if you’re a pessimist who loves a little bit of sarcasm then I highly recommend this book.

I picked up this book not too long ago as I wanted to learn more about the history of failed designs. This book is what inspired me to attempt to start a small series of dark designs.

It goes into detail about some of the worst design mistakes in recent history such as Three Mile Island’s infamous control panels. Now this book to UX design but if you’re a history buff that likes to explore outside of the typical stuff us designers read, I highly recommend.

I will say this though it takes a second to get a feel for the flow of the book as it jumps back in forth between the past and present, but that definingly not a deal breaker.

As a designer we are constantly learning. Most of the time that consist of us learning new skills and approaches to design, but things can go so much deeper then that.

But what did you think? Do you plan to give these a read? Have you already read them? If so what did you think? Let’s talk about

As always thanks for the read and I hope all is well. Pilahuk

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