A: Lots of designers are looking to make a contribution to their community. In recent years, I've seen a bunch of people trying to create whole practices based on Socially Responsible Design. This is working to a greater or lesser degree, depending on exactly how you like to measure success—as a giving back to society or making money. What I've noticed is that design for good seems to have the goal of crossing cultures and uniting people to support environmental consciousness and sustainability, as well as a any number of human services causes.
I would say that whether you are working for a huge corporation or a tiny non-profit organization, as a designer you need to be socially responsible in the broadest sense of the term. Essentially, I'm encouraging you to use your powers for good. Some things to consider:
• Awareness: Observe the current situation and emerging trends through the filter of cultural differences.
• Sensitivity: Adapt and evolve to meet the preferences and behaviors of different audiences.
• Integration: New expressions that work to create desired perceptions may not look the same for different audiences.
• Assessment: Create advocacy teams and communication groups that provide feedback that expresses the values and needs of the audience.
• Verification: Look at consumption patterns and relate user experiences to goals. Determine if the audience, and society in general, is actually served and if there is a tangible benefit to all of us.
Disclaimer: The general information in this column is not a substitute for personalized advice from an attorney, an insurance agent or an accountant. If you have questions regarding legal, financial or risk management issues, you should seek the services of an appropriate professional.
The Design Bitch is Terry Lee Stone, a Los Angeles-based creative manager and writer. She teaches the business of design at Art Center College of Design. The author of several books on design, her recent series is called, Managing The Design Process, published by Rockport Publishers.