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Design ≠ Benign

I love design. I love its principles, and I love the impact it has on the world. In order to use it effectively, consider it thoughtfully, and pull meaning from its principles, however, we need to understand what it is.

The primary objective of design is to inspire action, evoke thought, or provoke emotion. Sometimes design wants your money. Sometimes it wants your vote. Often it wants you to feel strongly in favor or against something. Usually, it wants some combination of all of the above—and more.

Most of all design wants to affect action, and to do so effectively it focuses on context rather than content. Design principles are about creating an environment through which action can be induced. The content is another matter altogether.

Therefore, design itself has little to do with ethics. Design can be put to good uses and bad uses. But design itself is only good or bad based on how effective it is.

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