Digital Hegemony: How Designers Dupe Users (by Accident)
Great user-centered design is all about enabling, empowering, and supporting the people who use our products. Except when it’s not. Every day, well-meaning designers craft well-intentioned experiences that inadvertently dupe, disempower, restrict, exclude, marginalize, oppress, or otherwise screw users—and the worst part? Neither these well-meaning designers nor their users have a clue. This talk is not about poor, ill-informed, or unusable design that everyone can clearly see. Instead, it explores how we, as experienced, competent digital creators, can inadvertently embed our work with invisible structures, biases, and ideologies that yank control from the very people we seek to empower.
Join me as I apply cultural theory from a handful of predominantly old, dead white guys (cultural theorists), to reveal the power asymmetries and accidental user subjugation I’ve observed over the past 5 years whilst designing for one of the most trying of user experience environments: the enterprise work place.
To expose digital creators to the invisible, potentially dark underbelly of their power over users.
Designers, developers, product strategists—anyone who conceptualizes, creates, or makes digital product decisions on behalf of another human being.
Five things audience members will learn
- How to spot biases, structures, or ideologies that can quietly disempower users
- How invisible power asymmetries manifest between creators and users, corporations and users, and between various user groups
- Why, beyond the obvious, enterprise software is like an invisible cubicle for the soul
- How, even without PhDs, we can use a rough understanding of theory to reveal new dimensions of our roles as creators
- You will only learn four main things from this talk, but when we chat at the after party I might learn something from you