Community Based Design

Edition #026

To solve big-scale design problems, Don Norman recommends engaging with the community that has these problems and leveraging existing creativity and experience.

The principles of human-centered design↗️ have proven to be effective and productive. However, its approach is generally used in situations where professionals determine the needs of the target populations and then develop products and procedures to address the needs. This is Top-Down design: starting with higher-level conceptualizations and then refining the ideas and concepts to specific instances of products or services. This works well for mass-produced items which only allows limited specialization for individual needs and requirements.

We propose a radical change in design from experts designing for people to people designing for themselves. In the traditional approach, experts study, design, and implement solutions for the people of the world. Instead, we propose that we leverage the creativity within the communities of the world to solve their own problems: This is community-driven design, taking full advantage of the fact that it is the people in communities who best understand their problems and the impediments and affordances that impede and support change. Experts become facilitators, by mentoring and providing tools, toolkits, workshops, and support.

We believe that the people best equipped to address these issues are the people who live there: This article↗️ shows one approach.

ℹ️ A digital Covid certificate system became operational in seven E.U. countries, offering a preview of what could become a standard for post-pandemic global mobility.

The document, known as a digital green certificate↗️, records whether people have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, have recovered from the virus or have tested negative within 72 hours. Travelers can move freely if at least one of those criteria is met.

Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Poland made the certificates available to their citizens as of Tuesday and are accepting them for visitors. The European Commission, the bloc’s administrative branch, said the system would be in use for all 27 E.U. countries as of July 1.

Stateside: The only government-issued vaccine passport in the U.S. is New York’s Excelsior Pass↗️, which is not required by the vast majority of businesses. Other states, including Alabama, Arizona, Florida and Georgia, have banned them.

The New York Times is still providing free access to the most important news and useful guidance on the coronavirus outbreak to help us understand the pandemic. Here are the latest updates and maps of the outbreak.

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Tools & Resources

The digital home of press freedom.

In many countries, websites, social media and blogs are controlled by oppressive leaders. Young people, in particular, are forced to grow up in systems where their opinion is heavily manipulated by governmental disinformation campaigns.

But even where almost all media is blocked or controlled, the world’s most successful computer game is still accessible. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) uses this loophole to bypass internet censorship to bring back the truth – within Minecraft.

On March 12, 2020 the “World Day Against Cyber Censorship”, The Uncensored Library opened its doors.

Providing access to independent information to young people around the world through a medium they can playfully interact with. Journalists from five different countries now have a place to make their voices heard again, despite having been banned, jailed, exiled and even killed.

Their forbidden articles were republished in books within Minecraft, giving us the chance to inform ourselves about the real political situation in our countries and learn the importance of press freedom.

You can visit the project’s website↗️ for more information (also a great web design inspiration) and the digital library on their Minecraft Server↗️.

🌟 Giving a damn about accessibility to celebrate and contribute to Global Accessibility Awareness Day, UX Collective have partnered with our most prolific accessibility writer, Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC, to bring a more candid take on the topic.

⚙️ UI Guideline is the handbook that every UI Designer/Developer should include in their workflow. Synthesizing all the wisdom of the most popular Design Systems and UI Libraries in one place, this tool makes your work easier and shortens your research time.

🧠 UX/UI Design Collection from Maze; with resources, examples, top tools, key principles, and best practices to create great products.

💡 The Component Gallery is an up-to-date repository of interface components based on examples from the world of design systems and designed to be a reference for anyone building component-based user interfaces.

🤩 UIUX Trend is a free resource for practitioners and beginners alike to get insights on the latest UI and UX trends, UI design, UX research, strategy, and design.

📒 Web Interface Handbook is a book about the fundamentals of creating a good web interface. You will find out how to make effective forms, typography, grids, and many other components of web design.

👁 Big Tech Detective is a browser extension to track tech giants. As you browse the internet, Big Tech Detective will alert you if the website you are on is exchanging data with Big Tech by identifying and measuring connections to internet protocol (IP) addresses owned by Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.

📲 Uitrial is a new UX/UI feedback and test platform, which provides powerful tools for testing, showcasing, and understanding prototypes.

Design Resources Center

Explore our ever-growing website with 1500+ design tools and resources.


Designing for Global Accessibility

Next Billion Users | Google Design

Feature Prioritization Frameworks: Build Only What Matters

Adam Fard | Blog

Why does every advert look the same? Blame Corporate Memphis

Josh Gabert-Doyon | Wired

Time to upgrade your monitor

Nikita | Blog

How to be excellent

Benjamin Studebaker | Psyche

Shaping design work (with STAR)

Andrew Duckworth | Blog

The Story of Name Sans, So Far

The Arrow Type Blog

How to write microcopy that improves the user experience

Betsy Mikel | Firefox UX Blog

Climate Tech Guide for Designers

Enrique Allen | Designer Fund


The Making of Save Ralph

A behind-the-scenes look at Save Ralph↗️, written and directed by Spencer Susser.

Step inside the studio for a quick look at the detailed stop-motion animation process behind this intricately powerful short film, Save Ralph. Created by Spencer Susser and frequent Wes Anderson/Tim Burton set designer and puppet maker Andy Gent (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Isle of Dogs, The French Dispatch, The Corpse Bride).

This behind-the-scenes video also features never before seen footage of the film’s voice stars including Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn uniting together for this campaign to end cosmetic animal testing alongside Humane Society International↗️.

What happened

  • A series of Instagram ads run by Signal got the messaging app booted from the former’s ad platform, according to a blog post↗️ Signal published. The ads were meant to show people the bevy of data that Instagram and its parent company Facebook collects on us, by... targeting those same people using Instagram’s own adtech tools.

  • Google announced the latest beta for Android 12↗️ at Google I/O↗️. It has an entirely new design based on a system called “Material You↗️” featuring big, bubbly buttons, shifting colors, and smoother animations. It is “the biggest design change in Android’s history,” according to Sameer Samat, VP of product management, Android and Google Play.

  • The Plastic Waste Makers Index reveals that just 20 firms are responsible for producing ~55% of the world's single-use plastics.

    • Minderoo Foundation unearthed a paper trail of evidence↗️ tracking plastic polymers as they leave the factories, following them as they are traded around the world and converted into single-use plastics, and where they are finally used and thrown away.

  • TikTok is launching a job hiring service↗️ to help find gigs. The pilot program is designed to help people find jobs on TikTok and connect with companies looking to find candidates. It's also meant to help brands use TikTok as a recruitment channel.

  • An early look at an ongoing analysis of Apple's App Tracking Transparency suggests that the vast majority of iPhone users are leaving app tracking disabled since the feature went live on April 26 with the release of iOS 14.5.

    • According to the latest data from analytics firm Flurry↗️, just 4% of ‌iPhone‌ users in the U.S. have actively chosen to opt into app tracking after updating their device to iOS 14.5. The data is based on a sampling of 2.5 million daily mobile active users.

    • When looking at users worldwide who allow app tracking, the figure rises to 12% of users in a 5.3 million user sample size.

  •  IBM announced a major breakthrough for the chip world. After four years of work, the company unveiled the first chip in history with 2-nanometer tech. The technology can make chips either 45% faster or 75% more energy-efficient than today’s leading options, according to IBM↗️.

    • Some real-life use cases: Major advances in graphics rendering, video quality and loading speeds, and payment processing. We’ll also likely see AI-driven scientific advancements—molecule simulation, drug discovery, battery tech—as well as accelerated language processing. 

  • Spotify will auto-transcribe podcasts over the coming weeks.

    • Spotify announced multiple updates↗️ to make its app more accessible across iOS and Android today, including a beta version of a podcast transcription feature. The company says it’ll start auto-transcribing certain exclusive and original shows over the coming weeks as part of a beta rollout.

  • Pinterest introduces Idea Pins↗️, a video-first feature aimed at creators.

    • Pinterest is expanding further into the creator community with today’s launch of a video-first feature called “Idea Pins,” aimed at creators who want to tell their stories using video, music, creative editing tools and more.

  • Google employees admit in a lawsuit↗️ that the company made it nearly impossible for users to keep their location private.

    • Newly unredacted documents in a lawsuit against Google reveal that the company's own executives and engineers knew just how difficult the company had made it for smartphone users to keep their location data private.

So what happens now?

Jeremy Meyerson, from London’s Royal College of Art has proposed a closely related approach “Scaling Down↗️” Here is his description:

The growth model of the 20th century required that designers and companies achieve economies of scale. Scaling up involved abstraction to make large-scale production possible for the global industrial economy. In the 21st century, social challenges are increasingly disrupting world markets. This changes the focus of the design process. Designers once needed to learn just a little about large groups of people to serve mass markets. Today, they must learn a great deal about relatively small numbers of people. They must shift from concentrating on what makes groups of people similar to what makes them different.

Myerson proposed five principles of scaling down↗️. They complement the approach in this paper by being very similar in spirit, but from a slightly different perspective, introducing slightly different concepts. Here are his principles:

  • Cultivate a Participatory Mindset—Not an Expert One

Creating with people rather than for them using collaborative methods responding to real needs identified through an interactive, democratic process, and make certain design methods obsolete.

  • Make the Process Design-Infused—Not Design-Led

Infusing multi-disciplinary processes with valuable design skills such as facilitation, visualization, and modeling offers richer, deeper, and more democratic alternatives to standard, designer-led approaches.

  • Design for People—Not Personas

Imaginary amalgams of user traits may be useful and convenient design tools in some industries—but they can be dangerous in others because they are based on unreal assumptions or idealized stereotypes.

  • Aim for Engagement—Not Abstraction

When designers adopt broad, simple, generic ideas about people, they leave no space for the type of contradiction, complexity, or iteration that real life demands. When designers opt for direct engagement with groups and individuals during workshops, consultations, or co-creation activities, they are able to resist abstraction because they are dealing with specifics, real opinions, and lived experiences.

  • Build on Assets—Don’t Just Minimize Deficits

Scaling down means looking through a positive lens, trying to enhance people’s physical and psychological assets, and building on what individual people and communities have to offer.

Scaling down is a counter-cultural movement that seeks to create a more tailored experience for communities and individuals. A participatory mindset, a design-infused approach, and engagement rather than abstraction are among the key values of scaling down. Scaling down can be seen in a variety of projects from office space planning to public health inventions in a city.

Experts provide the building materials and build the communication structures. Local communities build upon these resources. A powerful combination.

We believe that the people best equipped to address these issues are the people who live there, and we wish to help create a worldwide community, sharing procedures and results through powerful communication and learning tools, using whatever media are appropriate. This is the power of the mixed approach, building upon proven techniques in both the top-down and the bottom-up approaches.

— That’s it for this edition. And away we code. @Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, June 7–11. WWDC21 will take off with an all-online experience and millions of the world’s most talented developers. Here’s the program↗️. Also, it is the time of the year again for Product Hunt’s annual Makers Festival, with a great edition “The Green Earth”. Can’t wait to see what all the makers will come up with. Submissions open June 7th, more info here↗️.

See you next month.

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