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Value‐centred interaction design methods

John Knight (Intiuo Design and Research, London, UK)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 21 November 2008




This paper aims to inform and improve the quality of electronic products and services by outlining an approach to ethically grounded design.


A number of design disciplines were investigated using desk research and also learning from experience in commercial design practice in the mobile phone, Internet and software industries.


It is suggested that design “scripts” specific behaviours with either good or bad results. Scripts have a behavioural element and they define the physical, social and individual impact of products and services. This suggests that designers should be aware of the impact design decisions have throughout the product lifecycle. In order to achieve this, three ethical design principles (situated research, reflexivity and participation) are proposed to frame ethical design practice.

Research limitations/implications

It is suggested that measuring impact alone is insufficient to minimise harm caused by electronic products and services. Instead, research should focus on positively informing design through actionable results in the participatory design tradition. Conversely, design needs to accommodate research into measuring the impact of products in order to deliver long‐term benefits to users rather than perpetuating passive consumption.

Practical implications

The paper provides an overview of methods for value‐centred interaction design based on the analysis of alternative approaches to ethical design.


The research in the paper spans a number of related but heretofore separate disciplines pertinent to deepening design thinking. These disciplines are critiqued on the basis of their appropriateness and applicability to an ethical design approach and the concept of scripting, used in traditional design, is applied to interactivity. Lastly, three new principles are proposed for ethically grounded design.



Knight, J. (2008), "Value‐centred interaction design methods", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 334-348.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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