Google UX Lead on Design Thinking (Part 2)

We do our best to bring great products into the world through the design thinking process. Most product designers and product users have good intentions. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way. Consequently, there is another group of people who are building products to bring the world harm.

Product designers have to consider the intent of product users and product villains. For example, these are people we love and the people we love a little less. Based on the combined intentions of product designers and product users, it’s important to consider the outcomes that can result from these interactions:

  1. Good Intent Designer / Good Intent User (“Creating Your Value Proposition”)

  • In this best-case scenario, you’re designing good products that your customers will use with positive intent. As a result, you will spend most of your time thinking through this scenario to ensure that you are giving your customers everything they want.
  1. Bad Intent Designer / Good Intent User (“Being A Jerk”)

  • Product owners with harmful intentions will seek to pray on innocent users to do something bad or release sensitive information. For example, this can involve identity theft or phishing scams.
  1. Bad Intent Designer / Bad Intent User (“Arms Dealer”)

  • This is the worst case scenario in which both sides are up to no good. As the product owner, you are working to make it easier for your target customer to inflict harm. Likewise, the users are focusing on making as much money as possible without any consideration for ethics.
  1. Good Intent Designer / Bad Intent User (“Threat”)

  • Platforms built with positive intent are targets for harmful users who are seeking to disrupt or destabilize it. This is not only a threat to your product, but also to your users and your business’ reputation. In addition, this occurs when the users are engaged in activities that are directly opposed to your ethics.

In summary, product managers must think about threat potential in design thinking as often as value proposition. We should be consumed with doing right by our customers. However, you should also think about what can go wrong.


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About the speaker
Matt Conway Google, Design Manager, Google Cloud Member

Matt Conway is a Design Manager at Google, leading the user experience design team for Google Cloud. In addition, Matt has developed UX designs for many leading tech companies over the past two decades - including Microsoft, Expedia and Frog.