Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Book Review - Ruined by Design

I might not do much design anymore, but I am still interested in the field. There are many people who I find inspiring and Mike Monteiro is one of them. Not only is he a designer but he has some really strong views about how designers should be moving the profession along.

He does not care if you are an interaction designer or a visual designer or any of the other titles out there. He believes designers should be paid for what they do and that they should work to a certain level. After all, you cannot ask to be paid your full worth if you are not actually doing the job you are paid to do.

I have read several of his books, but was very interested to read his latest - Ruined By Design.

book sitting on wooden table
Ruined by Design by Mike Monteiro

His main premise is that designers have not been doing their job properly and this has to stop. Too often they have allowed things to be built, software and technology, that they know might not be good for people, without putting up a fight to try and make them better.

He believes designers are gatekeepers and should feel empowered to question the things their companies are asking them to work on.

He uses Twitter, Microsoft, Google and Uber as examples throughout the book, but I am sure we can all think of other companies who do not have their customers as their primary focus.

While the book is full of examples that make for pretty negative reading, it is also full of suggestions on how we can start to fix the mess that has been made.

It has been written very much from an American stand point, but I think many of the points he makes would work elsewhere in the world.

He would also like designers to sit under some sort of professional body like doctors and lawyers, and runs through all the reasons why this would be to our advantage, including giving designers more power to say no when asked to work on things that are harmful.

If you look at the state of technology today and think we should be able to do better, this book would be a good starting point in changing the way you think about your job as a designer and the role of design in the world. Expect strong opinions and some swearing but I also think he makes some good points that are worth thinking about and maybe even acting on!

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