The Power of Goodwill

So for our final round of blogs (or in my case, the final blog), we’ve been instructed to make them/it basically a feedback/opinion piece on concepts taught in the course.

I personally decided to discuss what I found to be the concept that left the biggest impact on me during this course, the idea (and power) of goodwill. As someone, along with a friend, currently in the starting phases of creating a startup in the highly sensitive field of mental health, ensuring the company maintains a trustworthy relationship full of goodwill with its clients is paramount. We want to veer away from manipulative ideologies as much as possible (aka, we want to help them, not take advantage of them) and making sure the company and our product is designed from the ground up with goodwill and positive relationships in mind.

One of the first things mentioned in the lecture is how using the product should not be more trouble than it’s worth to the average user. As a startup, understandably, to succeed (amongst many other factors) you need to make sure the UX is as easy as possible when trying to achieve it’s primary purpose. Understanding the user’s context and most pressing needs is the first way to approach this. Looking back on our project phases, I’ve noticed that basically most, if not all, the research/early phases we did is to achieve this purpose. The ultimate goal of our startup’s product, besides being an economically viable idea, is to ensure that we’ve accomplished our goal of helping the end user (unfortunately, I can’t speak of the specifics at this time). This ties into the second point of being helpful instead of taking advantage. The last point, of being fair, really ties into the second in my opinion. Being forthright and keeping promises is probably the best way to ensure you’re not taking advantage of the user.

To me, within the context of the startup and the lectures, that means not collecting data we don’t need or don’t have good reason to acquire (collecting it for fun because it could be useful vs collecting it because we think there’s good reason for it to be valuable). It also means being upfront about why we collect the data we collect and describing the value provided to the customer by sharing that data with us. This is in contrast to just asking for the data and never discussing why you need it, leading to gross speculation as to what it’s used for, which in many cases could be inaccurate. An example from our day to day lives of this is when apps ask for permissions when installed on Android phones (haven’t used iOS in years so I won’t discuss the details of that ecosystem). Apps like Facebook will ask for a variety of permissions while not giving any details as to why they’re asking for them vs some smaller apps, like a theoretical calendar app, that might ask for contact and SMS permissions (which seems unneeded at first) that explains that they use them to make it easier to have consistent plans with contacts by texting details to them on your behalf so that they can add to their calendar as well.

It also means that when there’s an issue, it’s best for us to just take responsibility for it on our end, even if it might not be our fault, to ensure the user maintains a positive experience where possible. Whether that’s in the form of a 404 page or error messages that pop up whenever there’s a bug or incomplete data to complete a computation.

Given the nature of our platform we don’t really have to worry about ads or their like. However, because there are effectively what we’ll call “middlemen” in our system (for lack of a better word without discussing details again), it would also be a good idea to set up a FAQ that describes what the user can expect when dealing with them and what rights they have, both within and outside our system in their dealings. For the “middlemen”, it would also be a good idea to set one up for them as well so that they understand their role and their rights as well. After all, they are our users as well and in my opinion, an ecosystem flourishes best when all it’s stakeholders are kept relatively happy and empowered.

While we can’t really design an “enjoyable” UI, we can certainly make one that’s trustworthy by following the above all to ensure that we, the company, have a relationship built on trust and goodwill with our users and customers.


Velian Pandeliev, Ilona Posner, Katie Seaborn, Olivier St-Cyr — Week 10 Memory and Goodwill Lecture — CSC318, University of Toronto, 2017

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