Questions of ethics and conflict can seem far removed from the daily work of user experience (UX) designers who are trying to develop insights into people's needs, understand their outlooks, and design with empathy for their concerns . In fact, the converse is true: When conflicts between businesses and customers--or any groups of stakeholders--remain unresolved, UX practitioners frequently find themselves facing ethical dilemmas, searching for design compromises that satisfy competing camps. This dynamic is the essential pattern by which conflicts in goals and perspectives become ethical concerns for UX designers. Unchecked, it can lead to the creation of unethical experiences that are hostile to users--the very people most designers work hard to benefit--and damaging to the reputations and brand identities of the businesses responsible.
Designers rationalize their choices just as much as everyone else. But we also play a unique role in shaping the human world by creating the expressive and functional tools many people use in their daily lives. Our decisions about what is and is not ethical directly impact the lives of a tremendous number of people we will never know. Better understanding of the choices we make as designers can help us create more ethical user experiences for ourselves and for everyone.