A Designer’s Code of Ethics

by Mike Monteiro

A designer does not believe in edge cases.

When you decide who you’re designing for, you’re making an implicit statement about who you’re not designing for. For years we referred to people who weren’t crucial to our products’ success as “edge cases”. We were marginalizing people. And we were making a decision that there were people in the world whose problems weren’t worth solving.

Facebook now claims to have two billion users. 1% of two billion people, which most products would consider an edge case, is twenty million people. Those are the people at the margins.

“When you call something an edge case, you’re really just defining the limits of what you care about.” — Eric Meyer

These are the trans people who get caught on the edges of “real names” projects. These are the single moms who get caught on the edges of “both parents must sign” permission slips. These are the elderly immigrants who show up to vote and can’t get ballots in their native tongues.

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