Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Design Responsibility

This article brings up some interesting topics regarding branding, design and usability:
After months of investigation, the state of Connecticut sued Best Buy on May 24 and accused the chain of tricking customers with two identical-looking Web sites in its stores, with the only difference being that one had higher prices... ...Initially, Best Buy said the identical design was used for both sites to save on design and programming costs. On May 24, Best Buy added that it designed to comfort—not confuse—their customers. "We used the same Web site platform for these in-store kiosks as we did for our national Web site to ensure that customers familiar with the national Web site could easily navigate the in-store kiosk," Busch said, in a prepared statement.
I can see how I might have fallen for this also. "Lets just use the existing web eStore. Its all done and it works fine, so we can save time and money." Especially from a branding, approvals, and content maintenance perspective, its something I can really see myself falling into. However, as we see here, its not the same thing at all.

 The various accounting scandals really pushed all big companies to put up lots of posters and send out lots of emails around ethics. Being a lowly UI designer I like to say "unethical behavior is above my pay grade." There's really hardly anything bad I could do if I even tried.

 But now I am thinking maybe I missed an opportunity, or risk, in that thinking. Maybe we have a responsibility of some sort around truth in information. I have always thought of contextual appropriateness in the narrow sense of comprehension, but perhaps understanding is broader.

Hmm... not sure yet how to say it, but its definitely worth thinking about more. Of course, we cannot do it alone, so sales and marketing (and everyone else) has to be on the same page, but maybe simply pointing out court actions can help persuade everyone.

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