Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It

Mike Monteiro

Finished Reading:
May 25, 2019

Edition Release:
Mar 29, 2019

Purchase Search via DuckDuckGo:
ISBN 9781090532084

Highlights & Annotations


Page 8 · Location 79

provoking the reader to muse on their own complicity in harming others through skillful storytelling and the desire to do and be better .


Page 10 · Location 103

The world is on its way to ruin and it’s happening by design .

Page 11 · Location 119

We’re going to learn how being a designer is being a gatekeeper .

Page 11 · Location 129

I intend to show you that design is a political act .

  • // feck perfuction author

Page 11 · Location 132

As the great Victor Papanek once said , “ You are responsible for what you put into the world . And you are responsible for the effects those things have upon the world . ”

Page 12 · Location 134

Design for the Real World

Page 12 · Location 144

I’ve never found a fifty dollar word that couldn’t be replaced by a nickel word .

The Ethics of Design

Page 21 · Location 278

You can’t fix a cake once it’s been baked . This is why criticism should be asked for and welcomed at every step of the design process . It is how you can increase the chance of your project being successful ; get feedback early and often . It is your responsibility to ask for criticism .

Page 22 · Location 295

They are not edge cases . They are human beings , and we owe them our best work .

Page 22 · Location 297

Just as a rising tide affects all boats , taking a shit in the pool affects all swimmers . If you are dishonest with a client or employer , the designer behind you will pay the price . If you work for free , the designer behind you will be expected to do the same . If you do not hold your ground on doing bad work , the designer behind you will have to work twice as hard to make up for that choice . If a designer leaves a job because they were being asked to behave against their ethical code , and you take that job , you’re doing all of us a disservice .

Page 23 · Location 307

We must make space for marginalized voices to be heard in the profession . Diversity leads to better outcomes and solutions . Diversity leads to better design .

  • // Julie Zhuo - search “diversity” in notes

Page 23 · Location 308

A designer keeps their ego in check , knows when to shut up and listen , is aware of their own biases and welcomes having them checked , and fights to make room for those who have been silenced .

How Designers Destroyed the World

Moving Fast and Breaking Things > Page 31 · Location 409

The current generation of designers have spent their careers learning how to work faster and faster and faster . While there’s certainly something to be said for speed , excessive speed tends to blur one’s purpose .

  • // how I feel now. I’m going from one thing to the next that I’m not thinking.

Moving Fast and Breaking Things > Page 32 · Location 422

We need to measure more than profit . We need to slow down and measure what our work is doing out there in the world . We need to measure impact on the people whose lives we’re affecting . Then , we need to design things that improve the lives of the people who make them and the people who use them ; design things which have a positive impact on society at large .

  • THIS. This is how I want to progress.

Moving Fast and Breaking Things > Page 33 · Location 440

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it .

Ayn Rand Was a Dick > Page 45 · Location 630

In 1971 , American philosopher John Rawls proposed an idea for determining the ethics of a situation , he called it a veil of ignorance . He later expanded on the idea in his book A Theory of Justice . In short , a veil of ignorance is a way of determining whether what you’re designing , be it a startup , a dinner plan , or a system of government , is just . It’s very simple : when designing something , imagine that your relationship to that system gets determined after you’ve made it .

Ayn Rand Was a Dick > Page 47 · Location 656

Because this is the story of where we put our labor and where we put our labor is a choice , a choice that we should be willing and able to make with our eyes wide open , fully aware of its repercussions . Who we work for and how we do that work are the only things that matter right now .

Ayn Rand Was a Dick > Page 48 · Location 678

I don’t believe in ethical offsets .

From Bauhaus to Courthouse > Page 55

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”

  • Upton Sinclair - The Jungle

From Bauhaus to Courthouse > Page 63 · Location 891

they need to learn how to measure the effectiveness of their own work . Not only for the company , but more importantly for society at large .

From Bauhaus to Courthouse > Page 69 · Location 993

We need to understand our job is to be advocates for the people who aren’t in the room . We need to understand we have a greater responsibility to society than to the people who sign the checks .

All the White Boys in the Room > Page 72 · Location 1023

All the white boys in the room , even with the best of intentions , will only ever know what it’s like to make decisions as a white boy . They will only ever have the experiences of white boys . This is true of anyone . You will design things that fit within your own experiences . Even those that attempt to look outside their own experiences will only ever know what questions to ask based on that experience . Even those doing good research can only ask questions they think to ask . In short , even the most well - meaning white boys don’t know what they don’t know . That’s before we even deal with the ones that aren’t well - meaning .

All the White Boys in the Room > Page 75 · Location 1072

As Claire L . Evans writes in her excellent book Broad Band : Before a new field developed its authorities , and long before there was money to be made , women experimented with new technologies and pushed them beyond their design . Again and again , women did the jobs no one thought were important , until they were .

All the White Boys in the Room > Page 77 · Location 1116

Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want To Talk About Race ,

All the White Boys in the Room > Page 78 · Location 1132

( So many crimes are committed under the label of “ culture fit ” that it’s not even funny . )

All the White Boys in the Room > Page 79 · Location 1142

There’s no quicker way to destroy someone’s confidence than teaching them that what they’re saying isn’t as important as what you’re saying .

All the White Boys in the Room > Page 79 · Location 1150

This is the shit we have to watch out for . The little crap . Interrupting women .

All the White Boys in the Room > Page 80 · Location 1155

We may even be stupid enough to think some of it is complimentary . ( I’m guilty of that . )

All the White Boys in the Room > Page 80 · Location 1156

Imagine your hardest day at work , on deadline , tons of shit to do , barely keeping on top of it . Now , imagine you have to do all that , along with monitoring the shit your coworkers are saying about you — the looks they’re giving you — the little jabs here and there — not being allowed to finish your sentences — having someone take credit for your ideas . You couldn’t do it , so stop putting that kind of burden on others .

  • THIS.

All the White Boys in the Room > Page 80 · Location 1166

Their suggestions were to write the job description so that it emphasized the work they’d be doing ; to talk about the people they’d be working with , the community they’d be joining , and why that work was important to be doing . They suggested talking about how this hire would be complementing an already great team . They suggested emphasizing the company’s goals rather than individual achievement , and how rather than saying things like “ you need five years experience doing x , ” you’re better off with “ be ready to discuss how your previous experiences can help us do x ” . Because let’s face it , it’s hard to get five years of experience doing something when you work in an industry that won’t hire you to do it .

All the White Boys in the Room > Page 86 · Location 1249

As the great James Baldwin puts it , “ It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death — ought to decide , indeed , to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life . ”

What We Can Do to Fix It

Choosing Where to Work > Page 89 · Location 1276

We need you to work ethically during that day job much more than we need you working with that nonprofit evenings and weekends .

Choosing Where to Work > Page 100 · Location 1440

think we can all agree that stealing is wrong , yet none of us would hesitate to steal the proverbial loaf of bread to keep our families from starving . The problem comes when theft goes from being an emergency method to stave off starvation to the primary means through which you earn your income .

How to Set Up for Success > Page 107 · Location 1533

That’s not the job . You were hired to solve problems . Your work should be evaluated on how well it solves those problems ( without creating new ones . )

How to Set Up for Success > Page 117 · Location 1684

Tire kicking is a gift . If someone kicks the tires on your work and it falls apart , that person is your new best friend because they just saved your ass . They helped you keep bad work out of the world .

How to Set Up for Success > Page 118 · Location 1690

Design Is a Job and You’re My Favorite Client . You should read those .

Oh, The Monsters We’ll Kill > Page 124 · Location 1777

We might have better luck teaching psychologists how to design for the web instead of teaching UX designers how to learn the psychological tools we need for this new landscape .

Oh, The Monsters We’ll Kill > Page 129 · Location 1857

If you honestly have a real reason that you need to know someone’s gender , just leave it an open field . People are gloriously complex . As a designer , I’m not going to trade someone’s happiness for a dataset that’s easier to sort .

Oh, The Monsters We’ll Kill > Page 131 · Location 1895

When it comes to applications and services that track our whereabouts , we need to design with assholes in mind . Sometimes they’re the biggest market .

Oh, The Monsters We’ll Kill > Page 136 · Location 1958


Persuading People Is Easy > Page 140 · Location 2014

A pixel . It’s the smallest unit of measurement you can design in . So stupidly insignificant , it’s nothing . Yet , designers take great pride in unironically referring to themselves as pixelpushers . We push the pixels . We color the pixels . We animate the pixels . We coat pixels in meaning . We count how many pixels we can see on our screens . We are obsessed with mastering the smallest possible thing we can work with . Worst of all , when we encounter a problem , our first reaction is to rearrange our pixels , as if some magic reordering will render us a different reaction . This arranging of pixels is one of the first things we learn to do as designers . Sadly , for many of us , the job ends where it begins — by gaining expertise and mastery over the smallest unit of measurement in design . Pushing a pixel is the absolute least you can accomplish as a designer .

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 142 · Location 2040

To design is to influence . The important work won’t get done at the pixel level . A pixel is just a point of proof in the stage of execution . It’s the period at the end of the sentence . That sentence though ? That’s the important thing . To design is to influence people . To design is to build new connections in people’s minds . To design is to build relationships where there previously weren’t any .

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 143 · Location 2057

Humility is just lipstick on a pig called fear .

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 143 · Location 2067

Strong caveat : confidence is not the same as cockiness . Confidence is about the work . It means I’ve done the math , crossed my t’s , dotted my i’s , and listened to feedback .

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 145 · Location 2084

Then someone makes the magical breakthrough : “ The only way to make the chair more comfortable is to go back in time to when the chair was being first discussed . ” Bingo !

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 145 · Location 2085

If you want to have a say in what’s being designed you need to be in the room where design decisions are being made .

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 146 · Location 2103

If you want to persuade people , you’re going to have to learn what they care about .

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 146 · Location 2106

You need to know how to get their attention immediately , how to sure they understand why you need their attention , and most importantly , how to make sure they know what you need from them .

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 146 · Location 2110

I’ve seen way too many designers present their arguments with incredibly long lead - ins . They’re trying to justify their work , lay the groundwork , show their process , and end with a big reveal . This is exhausting . It takes forever to get to . It bores people . No one cares about your process . No one wants to sit through twenty minutes of background .

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 147 · Location 2116

Most of the workshop participants want to know what they can do to change the boss’s behavior . In truth , it’s much easier to change your own .

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 147 · Location 2117

There’s a metaphor used in journalism called the inverted pyramid . In short , you give the most important information at the very beginning , increase the details as , or if , the reader continues reading the article , and then finish up with relevant background . If you’ve ever read the headline to a story and decided you already knew everything you wanted to know , now you know why . It’s by design . The inverted pyramid moves the reveal , which you’ve been saving up for the big finish , right to the top .

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 149 · Location 2150

Find the people who agree with you or who can be swayed . Find the people willing to have the discussion . Whose eyes lit up when you brought up an issue at a meeting ? Who was paying more attention than usual to what you had to say ? Who asked follow - up questions ? Reach out to them . Use those people skills .

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 151 · Location 2177

You can say the most confident thing that has ever come out of your mouth : “ I don’t know . ” Also , you need to follow that up with something like , “ I’m excited to find out , ” or , “ Give me until the end of the day / week to look into it , ” and make sure you do .

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 153 · Location 2217

So , while you should absolutely include the study of data in your approach , recognize that when you get to the point where you’re trying to persuade someone about good work , you need a story . Work like a scientist but present like a snake - charmer .

Persuading People Is Easy > Page 153 · Location 2221

Think of all the things that have ever persuaded you in your life . Think of all the memorable speeches you’ve seen . Think of how they moved you . Those people did the work . They collected the data . Then they used it to tell a story . If you’re not persuading people , you’re not telling a good enough story .