Introducing IF’s Responsible Technology by Design Framework

John Ridpath
Writing by IF
Published in
4 min readAug 11, 2022


There has never been a more important time to design responsibly. Society, planet and economy are facing systemic challenges unlike anything we’ve seen before.

IF believes that responsible technology provides a new path forward. One that optimises for trust. We are sharing our Responsible Technology by Design framework to help set a new operating standard. This work continues IF’s public position on design, technology and businesses that create social value. Our Data Patterns Catalogue and Manifesto for Society Centred Design have raised awareness and standards in product and services teams around the world.

IF’s Responsible Technology by Design framework

This framework represents a collective effort by the IF team to synthesise our insights from working on Responsible Technology briefs

At IF, we use this organising structure to create trustworthy services. It helps us establish a shared language around responsible technology needs, principles and patterns. It has been created collaboratively by the IF team over the past two years. We’ve drawn on primary and secondary research, as well as the themes and challenges we’ve seen emerge in client projects during this time.

We’re opening up the framework to all responsible technology practitioners

We hope that this framework will be useful to other practitioners working in responsible technology. This framework is a work in progress, and we expect it to evolve over time. We’re releasing it under a Creative Commons licence. One of the reasons we’re opening up is that we need feedback and suggestions so this tool’s impact can be fully realised.

The Experience Characteristics (in orange) focus on the human experience of trustworthy services

Five experience characteristics: Consentful, Transparent, Accountable, Rights-Enhancing, Specificity

In orange, are five ‘Experience Characteristics’. These characteristics act as a filter to assess the extent to which the human experience of a service is trustworthy. We define the Experience Characteristics as follows:

  • Consentful: People give permission, both individually and collectively, for how the technology is designed and used
  • Transparent: People have the tools and information to understand the purpose and structure of the service, underlying technology and data infrastructure, and how decisions and claims are made
  • Accountable: People are assured that organisations keep the promises they make, and that there will be consequences if they don’t
  • Rights-enhancing: People are assured that a service respects and enhances their human, digital and data rights
  • Specificity: Services are designed with a clear purpose, and of any technology or data it uses, to minimise its scope and potential impact

The Enablers (in yellow) are the corresponding characteristics of the infrastructure and architecture

Five enablers: Participatory, Auditable, Verifiable, Controllable, Legal

In yellow, are five ‘Enablers’. These are corresponding characteristics that foster responsible practice in the technical infrastructure and system architecture. These characteristics ensure the Experience Characteristics, and therefore a trustworthy service, can be achieved. We define the ‘Enablers’ as follows:

  • Participatory: People (including those from historically underrepresented groups) can participate in decisions about how the service, underlying technology and data infrastructure, and organisation are designed and used
  • Auditable: Claims can be checked by independent third parties who can assess those claims
  • Verifiable: Claims can be checked or demonstrated to be true, accurate, or justified
  • Controllable: There are policies and technical mechanisms that permit meaningful and effective control over the impact of the technology and any data it uses
  • Legal: People can understand the legal context, their legal rights, and have access to a justice system that respects the rule of law.

In future blog posts we will unpack more of the framework. We’ll explain some of the ways you might use it, and share worked examples (including data patterns).

If you’re interested in understanding how this could apply to your work, please get in touch via We have some availability this year for new work, though our diaries are filling up fast.

Acknowledgments: Sarah Gold, Anna Richell, Peter Wells, David Marques, John Ridpath, Dev Morgan, Imogen Meborn-Hubbard, Simon Wiscombe

Some of the tools that inspired us:

This framework is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license