Why design probes are effective methods to understand emotional UX.

Picture of a bike lane
Picture of a bike lane

The benefits of commuting by bicycle are notorious. Using the bike every day instead of the car or public transport is healthy for cyclists and is beneficial for the whole society, fundamentally because the bicycle is a sustainable means of transport, as brilliantly described by Professor Eva Heinen in several books and publications. The pandemic crisis in 2020 pushed many local authorities to increase the extension of bike lanes to motivate citizens to commute by bicycle. Bogotá, Milan, and Paris, just to name a few cities, made global headlines for dramatically improving their cycling infrastructure in just a few months.


Picture of a broken wall with a grey sky as background
Picture of a broken wall with a grey sky as background
© Davide M. Parrilli

Privacy and design

Design has a unique role and responsibility in understanding the issues that humanity faces and in proposing solutions. However, privacy and data protection issues have been largely ignored by designers until recently. The development of information and communication technologies (ICT) and of business models based on the extrapolation, collection and processing of personal information have made privacy a pressing affair for policymakers, businesses and designers. …


UX design should improve the user experience both online and offline.

Woman in a bookshop holding a book
Woman in a bookshop holding a book
Photo by Pj Accetturo on Unsplash

Is there anything more frustrating than bad online UX design? Yes, it is a dreadful offline UX design. More and more shops, businesses, and organizations are implementing online UX design steps into the offline world. The result often is very deceiving.

The case study: how to get access to a bookshop

Recently I experienced a perfect example of bad implementation of a typical online UX design process in the offline world. On a calm Sunday morning I wanted to visit the most famous historic bookstore in the city of Porto, Portugal (I won’t tell the name, but I promise you it’s not difficult to find out). The site is so…


Privacy law is not enough to assure that privacy rights are integrated into the design of digital products.

The image shows a mobile phone screen with a sign that forbids to follow or steal the identity of the user.
The image shows a mobile phone screen with a sign that forbids to follow or steal the identity of the user.
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Privacy is a fundamental human right, included in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose article 12 states that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence […].” The idea of privacy in 1948 is different from the contemporary concept of privacy and data protection. After WWII, the most worrying violations of privacy rights were performed by governments. The possibilities for private companies to abusively breach privacy rights were limited and, more importantly, there was no real business need for it. Surveillance capitalism, as described by Prof. …


Merging legal and design knowledge is the key to develop better products and improve user’s experience

Picture of a detail of a wooden door, taken by the author
Picture of a detail of a wooden door, taken by the author
© Davide M. Parrilli

Design applied to the law and lawyers’ activity is having a moment. Legal experts understand that they need to offer something new and exciting to clients. Customers and businesses often are frustrated when confronted with texts in legalese that pave the way to loopholes, confusion and litigation.

Basically, the legal world needs help from design. Margaret Hagan, in her book “Law by Design”, advocates for a design-driven approach to legal innovation, with focus on inventing, testing and building systems that serve the agency of people involved in them.

Simply stated, legal design is a set of tools aimed to design…


Products that do not include privacy in their design are really not sustainable.

Board with the word “private”
Board with the word “private”
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Sustainability is probably one of the most used and abused words in the design field. Although it is a good thing that designers and companies want to produce sustainable products, and that consumers feel better when buy them, sustainability is a very complex concept.

When we talk about sustainability, the first natural reaction is to associate it with the natural environment. A product is sustainable when it pollutes less, and it takes less resources to produce. This concept is fairly right, although measuring sustainability is far from being easy. In their 2016 paper “Measuring Product Sustainability: A Literature Review”, Le…


Human-centered design is not perfect, but it is one of the best approaches designers have.

Girl holding a colorful string of paper images in front of her face
Girl holding a colorful string of paper images in front of her face
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

In our world, human beings are frequently labelled according to their commercial role (customer or user) when designers are called to develop products or solutions or, more simply, solve a problem. Human-centered design (HCD) is praiseworthy because it sees human beings as such, and solutions to problems are developed by involving the human perspective in the whole process.

Exactly for this universal and humanitarian approach HCD is best suited to offer a framework for design that supports and promotes human dignity and human rights, as proposed by Richard Buchanan in its 2000 paper Human dignity and human rights: Toward a…


Dark patters, when used ethically, can be an effective tool to increase privacy.

Photo by Halacious on Unsplash

Dark patterns are highly unethical design mechanisms to capture more personal data from users that they would normally be willing to give. In the website darkpatterns.org Harry Brignull and Alexander Darlington analyze and categorize different kinds of dark patterns, including those aimed to “Privacy Zuckering”, after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Privacy Zuckering means that “you are tricked into publicly sharing more information about yourself than you really intended to”.

In my article Cookie consent is (still broken) I assessed how dark patterns are used in cookie consent banners and disclaimers to pressure users into accepting having cookies installed on their…


Lack of real consent and dark patterns are king in this field, but better laws and design ethics can help.

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Cookies carry a sweet, innocent name, but are among the most powerful tools used by corporations to make money in the era of surveillance capitalism. For whom is unfamiliar with the concept developed by Prof. Shoshana Zuboff in her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, surveillance capitalism is a business and societal model where companies make huge profits by trading personal information collected from and about people online. These personal data are harvested through cookies and other technologies when consumers visit websites. …


A children’s bed should be a tool for them to learn, not a cage

Picture of MiauBau bed
Picture of MiauBau bed
© Davide M. Parrilli

Low-tech innovation is necessary in children’s furniture

Designing for toddlers and children is very fascinating but challenging. Designers and parents need to understand what children need and like, based on their nonverbal behavior and feedback.

As a designer and parent, it was interesting and disturbing to find out that most of the furniture designed for small children take into account primarily the parents’ needs and concerns. Safety is obviously a very important matter when designing for babies and kids, but usability should also be a priority.

Cribs and beds for babies are good examples. The vast majority available on the market is based on what parents want…

Davide M. Parrilli

Designer|PhD researcher in privacy, design and ethics at UNIDCOM-IADE-Lisbon| www.parrillilegal.net

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