Global Views on Ethics, Sustainability and Inclusivity

From 14 – 16 October Usaria, our Mexican and Colombian partners at the UXAlliance hosted the 17 installment of the UX Masterclass.  This year’s theme was ‘design for the future, design for everyone’ and set out to explore our responsibility as UX researchers to cater to the modern challenges that we face such as ethics, sustainability and inclusivity.  There were so many interesting topics and talks that we couldn’t review them all, but here’s a few examples that we were fortunate enough to attend in person. Thanks again to our hosts and all our UXAlliance community!

Mark and Kellie presenting at the conference!

Mark and Kellie presenting at the conference!

Day One

The first day began with an introduction from María Isabel Murillo, the Director of Usaria where she welcomed the audience and talked us through what we had to look forward to over the coming three days. 

Ethics & responsibility in UX design (Susan J. Wolfe, OE Strategy, Australia)
In a post COVID world the implementation of QR codes and contact tracing has increased the need for us as designers and UX researchers to think carefully about the ethical implications that arise from these new technologies.  Susan suggested looking carefully at our own research in order to understand that at times we are the ones contributing to the problem, and that it is down to us to look for alternatives.  

Design is a political act: a framework for ethical and responsible design (Luca Baldini, Assist Digital, Italy)
In his talk Luca grounded his arguments in the use of design theory in order to prompt the listener to think about how they can go back and challenge their own designs, and think critically about how they will affect the people that they are trying to serve (as well as the people that they aren’t).  Luca raised the point that if the internet was a country it would be the 7th largest polluter, and we as designers are direct contributors.  Our favourite quote from the talk was that we need to change our approach from ‘egocentric to ecocentric’ in order to reverse the damage that has already been done. 

Why now is the time to ensure artificial intelligence captures the right data (Gavin Lew, Bold Insight, USA) 
Discussing all things AI, Gavin asks if we are doing everything we can to ensure that AI is evolving to be the best that it can be. We need to recognise the dangers, but at the same time humanise and make AI more approachable for the masses.  Gavin suggests that to overcome these barriers we need to start by giving better data sets to data scientists as the richer the data in, the stronger the data that will be produced.

Day Two 

Inclusive Research with Underserved Audiences (Mark Brady & Kellie Hodge, Sutherland Labs, UK & USA)
Mark and Kellie argue that it is our role as UX researchers to ensure that underserved audiences are represented in design, and furthermore that this lack of representation has created an innovation challenge within our industry. From recruitment criteria to ensuring we use accessible technologies – it is up to us to disrupt research practices and kick start the change for more inclusive design systems.   

Customer Centric Design vs Sustainability (Maritza Guaderrama, PhD. Senior Advisor & Strategic Design Professor, Spain)
Throughout her thought provoking presentation Maritza argued that customer centric design and sustainability are at odds with one another, and in the modern world design has to be sustainable in order for it to be innovative. Maritza argues that through the creation of a shared narrative it is possible to work towards implementing a shared vision, it just takes everyone working as a team to achieve this! 

Day Three 

Remote Research During COVID-19 What next? (Liezel Steggman, Mantaray, South Africa)
Referring specifically to Africa and the other emerging regions, Liezel explained how Mantaray have adapted their methods in order to make research possible during the time of COVID. Diary studies, in depth interviews and remote collaboration sessions are just some of the methods they used to continue to grow their outreach over the last two years. COVID is here to stay and we need to adapt to work with it, rather than against it. 

UX Needs Design Leaders (Wojtek Chojnacki, Symetria UX, Poland)
Wojtek argues that a design leader is not only someone who designs products and services, but also who creates the environment for others to flourish.  Some of the key challenges that leaders face is scaling and democratising research teams, as well as influencing company wide decisions, even if this means that uncomfortable conversations need to be had.

We loved this year’s UX Masterclass.  Thanks go to Usaria for organizing such a fantastic event, as well as the other partners at the UXAlliance who helped to make this happen.  The conference gave us so much to think about as our role as designers in shaping and overcoming the issues that the modern world is facing.  We can’t wait for the next Masterclass! 

To learn more about the UX Alliance or talk about global research please reach out to

The Labs Team

Sutherland Labs