Ruined by Design (Book review)

Who this book is for


Christian Jensen

3 years ago | 2 min read

Who this book is for

If you impact the design of a product in any way, whether directly or indirectly, whether or not you’ve got “Designer” in your job title, you’re doing design work. All you PMs, Developers, Marketing people and Executives who may not think this book matters for you, think again. You all have an impact on the design, and thus a responsibility to take your impact seriously.

The key takeaway

Mike gives a much-needed wakeup call for Designers to stop seeing themselves as mere pixel pushers, executing the orders of managers, and own up to their roles as gatekeepers responsible for their users’ rights and wellbeing.

While I don’t necessarily agree with all the statements in this book, I do agree with the overarching message about the perils of poor design decisions (e.g. Twitter allowing nazis on their platform, or Airbnb enabling hosts to filter out potential guests based on race). Digital product design has become a thing over night, at least as seen on a business timescale, and we’re just now beginning to realize its impact — good and bad.

Digital products can massively influence their users’ lives, for better and for worse depending on how they’re designed. Despite their enormous power and responsibility, we — the Designers behind these products — are not required to have any kind of “license”, pass any test, or take an oath on the ethics of our work. Actually, we can completely skip courses and school, and instead just practice on hobby projects at home…

Mike makes a strong case for Designers getting a license before being allowed to design products with any substantial user base, and for Designers to unite in a union in order to fight the higher-ups who ask them to do unethical shit. I’m a big fan of his ideas, and I hope we see something like it in the near future!

My rating

4 out of 5 stars

Definitely worth a read. Go for the audiobook version if you want all the depressing news delivered in a highly engaging, and entertaining, way ;)


Created by

Christian Jensen

UX Designer, investor, and NFT nerd, writing about innovation, investing, product design, and culture ✍️







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