Workshop Introduction

In an era of ubiquitous digital interfaces, technology and design practitioners must engage in a range of ethical dilemmas surrounding the use of persuasive methods and how to balance shareholder and end-user needs. Practitioners who design these products often unknowingly use obstructive and “dark” design patterns that heighten unethical practices.

With the growing digital economy, it is important to better understand these practices and identify opportunities for intervention. How do practitioners engage with ethics? How can designers design more responsibly? Building on these provocations, we invite participants to share their stories and dilemmas, co-creating methods to use in their future practice to design ethical digital products.

We are researchers in the UX Pedagogy and Practice Lab, the research lab of Dr. Colin M. Gray at Purdue University. You can find out more about our lab at

We have designed this workshop for you and your team to co-create an effective action plan for dealing with ethical issues in your workplace. We encourage you to reflect back on your day-to-day work practices for issues you may want to tackle with your action plan throughout this workshop.

Workshop Structure

This workshop contains five stages, and each stage can be conducted separately but in sequence throughout a period of time that best fit your and your team’s schedule.

The five stages and their purposes are

  1. Preparation Stage: reflect and identify ethical dilemmas you or your team has faced at work
  2. Shop: browse and chose existing ethics-focused building blocks
  3. DIY Station: create action plans using chosen building blocks to address ethical issues
  4. Test Drive: evaluate the transferability and scalability of your action plans
  5. Gallery Walk: share and reflect

Estimated Time: 3 hours in total

Materials to download: Ethical Dilemma Card, Problem Card, Method Blocks, Shop Categories, DIY resource toolkit, Context Card

Example Context of Use: Design Review Meetings, Weekly Team Huddles, Team Training Days, Lunch and Learn, and more… Get creative!

Workshop Reviews from Past Participants

Preparation Stage

Estimated Time: 20 minutes

Materials: Ethical Dilemma Card, Problem Card, Sticky Notes, and Pens

Activity Introduction

The prep stage aims to help you identify ethical dilemmas you have encountered at work, and guide you to generate a problem statement for the ethical dilemma that you will focus on addressing in this workshop

Get Started

Step 1: Reflect on your ethical dilemma

Step 2: Create your problem card

  • Select one of the ethical dilemmas to focus on, and transfer it to the first block on the Problem Card
  • Select a context or place where the issue might arise (eg. product review sessions, client meetings, individual work time, group work sessions, office, remote work etc..)
  • Fill out the rest of the Problem Card using new sticky notes

Step 3: Share with your teams and get feedback on the problem cards

Step 4: Iterate problem cards

  • Incorporate team members’ feedback to tighten the framing of your problem card

The Shop

Estimated time: 10 minutes

Materials: Method Blocks, Shop Categories

Activity Introduction

The shop contains 40 component cards, and method blocks are the deconstructed pieces of existing ethics-focused methods and tools that our lab has collected. (Link to more background work). We have categorized the component cards based on their ethical affordances and the actions each card supports.

  • Ethical affordance: 1) Reimagining your design space, 2) Identifying ways to make your practice more ethically focused, 3) Deciding which values are relevant
  • Supporting Actions: 1) Identifying, 2) Building Alignment, 3) Creating, 4) Evaluating

Notes: the empty cards are designed for you to add in any other resources from your organization or in your personal practice that can also assist you in assembling your action plan

Get Started

  • Explore all the blocks in the shop
  • Pick as many method blocks as you feel helpful for later use

DIY Station

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Materials: Large sheets of canvas, DIY resource toolkit, Pen, Gluesticks, Sticky Notes,

Activity Introduction

The DIY station is where you will incorporate all the method blocks into creating an action plan of yours to address the ethical dilemma you chose to focus on. An action plan contains guiding steps for you to act upon in ethically complex situations. This action plan should be personal, practical, and actionable to you. It is for you to use to support your ethical awareness and potential for action in your area of practice.

Get Started

  • The plan is for you and there’s no right or wrong way to build it, sketching, mapping, linking, pasting, anything is encouraged! Just have fun and let your intuition guide you!

Note: We have provided a DIY resource toolkit for you to use as building blocks. The resource toolkit contains

  • Icons representing individuals who you might involve in your action plan
  • Verbs as ways you can connect different pieces of your action plan
  • Additional method blocks that you can add to your action plan


  • Guiding questions for you to consider
    • How would you use the building blocks that you selected to address your problem?
    • How could you reconstruct or change the blocks to help assist you?
  • Example action plans for you to peek at

Test Drive

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Materials: Context Card, Sticky Notes, and Pens

Tips: we recommend conducting test driving your action plans with a new partner or in a new group to get fresh perspectives

Activity Introduction

The goal of the test drive is to evaluate the transferability and scalability of your action plan in a future context.

Get Started

Step 1: Envision Future Changes

  • Revisit your problem card
  • Use the context card to envision future changes and anticipated issues with your current problem context.
  • Fill out the context card

Step 2: Apply Your Action Plan in the Future Content

  • Work in groups to discuss how your action plans might work, fail, or need to be adapted in the new context
  • Feel free to use colored sticky notes to mark “pass”, “fail” and “to improve” on your action plan
Example test drive marking using green (pass), orange (failed), and yellow (to improve) sticky notes

Step 3: Iterate Your Action Plan

Gallery Walk

Congratulations! You have made your first ethics-focused action plan for you to try out at work. As a group, feel free to share with each other what you have created, such as the problem context you chose, your process of creating your final action plan, and how it helps to address the problem you have identified.

Reflection Questions:

  • What did you learn from your experience of creating your action plan? 
  • What are some things you wish you had time to do but couldn’t?
  • What did you learn about your own design practices?
  • Any feedback you’d like to share with us about this workshop? 

Thank you and have fun!