How can we practice design without harming the Planet? 🌎

Edition #023

How can designers build eco-conscious design practices? What exactly is design’s role in the climate movement? And what other communities and industries should we look to for the way forward?

These were the questions asked and led the conversations in Eye on Design Summit: Ecology + Design at 2020 AIGA Design Conference.

Featuring interviews with Julia Watson, author of Lo-Tek: Design by Radical Indigenism, and Benedetta Crippa, lead designer at the Stockholm Environment Institute, with a panel moderated by designer, writer, and educator Anoushka Khandwala. Learning about "visual sustainability;" resilient, nature-based technology; and the new crop of designers who are centering their practices on climate action. Session was led by Eye on Design editor Meg Miller and Scratching the Surface host Jarrett Fuller, which is now available for streaming.

🌱 Environmentally sustainable design (also called environmentally conscious design, eco design, etc.) is the philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to comply with the principles of ecological sustainability.

Sustainable design is the approach to creating products and services that have considered the environmental, social, and economic impacts from the initial phase through to the end of life. EcoDesign is a core tool in the matrix of approaches that enables the Circular Economy.

- Leyla Acaroglu, Quick Guide to Sustainable Design Strategies

The intention of sustainable design is to "eliminate negative environmental impact completely through skillful, sensitive design". Manifestations of sustainable design require renewable resources and innovation to impact the environment minimally, and connect people with the natural environment.

“Human beings don't have a pollution problem; they have a design problem. If humans were to devise products, tools, furniture, homes, factories, and cities more intelligently from the start, they wouldn't even need to think in terms of waste, or contamination, or scarcity. Good design would allow for abundance, endless reuse, and pleasure.”

- The Upcycle by authors Michael Braungart and William McDonough, 2013.

Design-related decisions are happening everywhere on a daily basis, impacting “sustainable development” or provisioning for the needs of future generations of life on earth. Sustainability and design are intimately linked. Quite simply, our future is designed. The term “design” is here used to refer to practices applied to the making of products, services, as well as business and innovation strategy — all of which inform sustainability. Sustainability can be thought of as the property of continuance; that is, what is sustainable can be continued into the future.

There is a well-quoted statistic that says around 80% of the ecological impacts of a product are locked in at the design phase. If you look at the full life cycle of a product and the potential impacts it may have, be it in the manufacturing or at the end of life stage, the impacts are inadvertently decided and thus embedded in the product by the designers, at the design decision-making stage.

This makes some uncomfortable, but design and product development teams are responsible for the decisions that they make when contemplating, prototyping, and ultimately producing a product into existence.

ℹ️ 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.

ℹ️ Email can be crippled by Google or other email providers, because of its length. You can read the full version online, by clicking the headline or this link.

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You should not take any risks with your design education when you want to learn and advance your career. Your course content should be evidence-based and valuable to your job.

On this mission, we partnered with the Interaction Design Foundation, the World’s leading online design school with serves peer-reviewed, evidence-based educational materials, and industry-recognized course certificates.

Trusted by IBM and Adobe who train their teams with IDF courses, you can also enroll now through our collaboration and get 3 months off your yearly membership to make a life-changing shift into UX design or stay ahead.


💯 design lessons for 2021

Not trends, but lessons. Lessons on how to make an impact beyond our products, how to collaborate beyond Zoom calls, how to organize ourselves beyond our bubbles, and how to improve our craft beyond artboards. Lessons from voices we still don’t hear as often in the design mainstream — but we should. Lessons that can help us all dive into 2021 a bit more prepared.

Awesome Design Systems are a curated list of design systems, pattern libraries, and everything between.

🎨 Tint and Shade Generator lets you easily make tints and shades that match the output of Chrome DevTools, PostCSS, and Sass.

👥 Plant is a simple and smart version control and collaboration platform for designers, that is seamlessly integrated with Sketch to accelerate digital product design. Securely store Sketch files, organize your projects, collaborate with your team.

📝 Frontitude provides a single source for UX and product teams to create and collaborate on their UX copy, from design to production.

🔎 Storybook is an open source tool for developing UI components in isolation for React, Vue, and Angular. It makes building stunning UIs organized and efficient.

👨‍🔬 Chromatic automates gathering UI feedback, visual testing, and documentation, so developers can iterate faster with less manual work.

Time.Graphics is the timeline maker wich provides you free with some limits and premium version without restrictions. Make a historical analysis in one click! Yup, it’s real! We present to your attention the amazing website!

🧠 UXtoast is a great resource for learning the fundamentals of UX & UI Design, including design laws and principles, visual design, and design processes.

🖍 Color Hunt is a free and open platform for color inspiration with thousands of trendy hand-picked color palettes.

🗣 Usersnap makes it simple to collect feedback & ship improvements. Streamline issues, ideas and requests into your workflow. Accelerate improvements and induce growth. Share your customer understanding with your team. Improve customer experience with website feedback and visual bug reports for QA and UAT. Increase customer satisfaction with NPS, CSAT in your digital product.

🤩 Learn Anything is the platform for knowledge discovery that helps you understand any topic through the most efficient paths, as voted by the community.

Design Resources Center

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


Data-Informed Thinking: How-to incorporate data into your design process

Nicholas Kramer | Medium

Design to Save People from Themselves

Brian | Website

How to test content like a pro: A step-by-step guide

Ryan Williams | Maze Blog

The UI & UX Tips Collection: Volume One

Marc Andrew | Website

Building Your Color Palette

Refactoring UI

UX Writing: The Secret to Designing Great Experiences

Nicholas Kramer | Studio Blog

Form design - Best practice, research insights and examples

Geri | Website

Inclusive Design Principles

Contributors: Henny Swan, Ian Pouncey, Heydon Pickering, Léonie Watson

Scaling down: on seeking fewer goals, relationships, and experiences

Anne-Laure Le Cunff | Ness Labs


Leyla Acaroglu: Paper beats plastic? How to rethink environmental folklore

Most of us want to do the right thing when it comes to the environment. But things aren't as simple as opting for the paper bag, says sustainability strategist Leyla Acaroglu. A bold call for us to let go of tightly-held green myths and think bigger in order to create systems and products that ease strain on the planet.

What happened

Looking back at the moments that inspired us and changed us in a year unlike any other. 2020 changed everything.

From the deadly Covid-19 pandemic to protests against systemic racism and police brutality, from changing global leadership to the effects of climate change, Vox explained the moments that mattered and the ones that brought us joy.

  • WhatsApp’s new policy: Signal and Telegram demand spike as WhatsApp download falls.

    • WhatsApp announced yesterday that users must agree to share data with Facebook, its parent company, and given users until February 8, 2021, to accept the new officially updated terms of service and privacy policy to continue using the messaging platform or to delete their accounts. Other messaging apps like Signal and Telegram are seeing a sudden increase in demand as WhatsApp’s updated terms of service raised eyebrows.

    • WhatsApp, which uses Signal’s encryption technology, laid out fresh terms on Wednesday, asking users to agree to let owner Facebook Inc and its subsidiaries collect user data, including their phone number and location.

    • ..How much data?

    • Under the new privacy policy, WhatsApp will be able to collect a user’s phone number, location, transaction info, usage activity and duration, contacts’ names and phone numbers, unique identifiers for other Facebook-owned products associated with the user's device or account, and more. According to Facebook, the update is largely aimed at business messaging. 

    • Users who don’t agree will lose access to WhatsApp on Feb. 8. The newly-minted richest man in the world (Elon Musk), among others, is urging WhatsApp users to abandon ship for Signal. 

    • Signal doesn’t link data to your identity, and Telegram, another encrypted messaging app, links only some. Over 100,000 users installed Signal across the app stores of Apple and Google in the last two days, while Telegram saw almost 2.2 million downloads, according to data analytics firm Sensor Tower.

  • Adobe Stock launched 70k+ free assets. Explore a curated collection of over 70,000 free photos, vectors, illustrations, and videos from talented Adobe Stock providers All downloads come with a commercial license.

  • Apple announced App Store Small Business Program. The new program reduces App Store commission to 15 percent for small businesses earning up to $1 million per year. → Conversation on Hacker News.

    • Existing developers who made up to $1 million in 2020 for all of their apps, as well as developers new to the App Store, can qualify for the program and the reduced commission. 

    • If a participating developer surpasses the $1 million threshold, the standard commission rate will apply for the remainder of the year. 

    • If a developer’s business falls below the $1 million threshold in a future calendar year, they can requalify for the 15 percent commission the year after.

  • OpenAI have developed DALL-E, a neural network that can generate images from simple text descriptions. DALL-E was trained on more than 12 billion images and captions that were found across the internet.

  • Adobe ended of support for its famous Flash software. While Adobe won’t start blocking Flash content until January 12th, major browsers will shut it all down tomorrow and Microsoft will block it in most versions of Windows. It’s over.

  • CES 2021 happening entirely online, this year's is unlike any other. However, there's still a ton of tech news to watch out for, and Axios has you covered with all the big news in one place.

    • We are in the midst of both a pandemic and political upheaval, but that isn't stopping the biggest tech companies in the world from sharing their latest consumer gear. Here's the latest — check back all week for more from the Axios tech team.

So what happens now

design for the entrance lobby of an exhibition in Corona Del Mar, California (1949-1952)
Victor Papanek, Gallery of Living Arts: design for the entrance lobby of an exhibition in Corona Del Mar, California (1949-1952) © University of Applied Arts Vienna, Victor J. Papanek Foundation

Design, if it is to be ecologically responsible and socially responsive, must be revolutionary and radical.

- Victor Papanek

We keep going, with an understanding the outcomes of our actions. Think, before design, and consume. Everything we do individually, counts.

— That’s it for this edition. Newsletter will be as monthly editions this year. Test your usability knowledge by taking the Nilsen Norman Group User-Experience Quiz. See you next month.

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