It is common for designers and consumers nowadays to talk about or refer to 'dark patterns', although it is probably the intention of the designer that makes the pattern 'dark' rather than the actually pattern itself, which is just a generic solution to a particular problem based on a set of requirements.

If we approach the issue from the opposite perspective, there are many products or services which are accredited or branded with positive credentials (like organic certified or recyclable) that consumers look for. Is this something that can be done for design?

An article written by a company involved in developing software used in research talks about the concept of "ethically designed algorithms" which can be administered by an organisation that is akin to the "FDA of Algorithms" (Andrew Tutt, 2016).

The principles of ethically designed algorithms, as described in the article, embodies the following elements:


Make available externally visible avenues of redress for adverse individual or societal effects of an algorithmic decision system, and designate an internal role for the person who is responsible for the timely remedy of such issues.


Ensure that algorithmic decisions as well as any data driving those decisions can be explained to end-users and other stakeholders in non-technical terms.


Identify, log, and articulate sources of error and uncertainty throughout the algorithm and its data sources so that expected and worst case implications can be understood and inform mitigation procedures.


Enable interested third parties to probe, understand, and review the behavior of the algorithm through disclosure of information that enables monitoring, checking, or criticism, including through provision of detailed documentation, technically suitable APIs, and permissive terms of use.


Ensure that algorithmic decisions do not create discriminatory or unjust impacts when comparing across different demographics (e.g. race, sex, etc).

Is there anything similar that has been developed for research in similar fields (e.g. Psychology or Medical Research) that is suitable for adaptation to UX design? Or does something like this already exist and is used?

UPDATE: with the updates to WCAG guidelines to make it more user friendly (especially in WCAG 3.0), are there also ways to include them as part of an accessibility audit/criteria? Is it possible to adopt a similar style or format for ethical design practices (if not include them as part of accessibility or inclusive design practices).

  • I can't see a possible connection between EDA and UX... as I understand it, EDA is about things like automated yes/no decisions when applying for credit: with an EDA, you can't just "hide" behind "the computer says 'no'"; you have to be able to understand and explain why it said 'no'. Can't see how that fits into UX design...
    – TripeHound
    Nov 15, 2018 at 9:54
  • @TripeHound I am interested in how some of the concepts apply to design when it comes to making sure that no harm is being done to the end user. This is the approach that the FDA takes to assessing pharmaceuticals in allowing them to be used for therapeutic purposes. UX design needs tighter ethical considerations because there is clear harm being done to users in some of the less than ideal practices that we see out there today.
    – Michael Lai
    Nov 16, 2018 at 0:50

1 Answer 1


You can have a look at the different initiatives and resources from the Center for Humane Technology. In particular they began drafting a design guide worksheet for assessing the design of more humane products and to identify where investing in a deeper understanding of human nature that will yield further psychological and ethical benefits.

  • 1
    +1 I am familiar with their work, but the Design Guide Worksheet seems to be a very recent addition (since it is an alpha product). I wonder how it might align with other ethical standards and guidelines but it would be great to see more people using such resources :)
    – Michael Lai
    May 12, 2021 at 23:12

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