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Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It
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Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  504 ratings  ·  73 reviews
The world is working exactly as designed.
The combustion engine which is destroying our planet’s atmosphere and rapidly making it inhospitable is working exactly as we designed it. Guns, which lead to so much death, work exactly as they’re designed to work. And every time we “improve” their design, they get better at killing. Facebook’s privacy settings, which have ou
Kindle Edition, 251 pages
Published April 12th 2019
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May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m giving this book four stars on a curve because I believe it needs to exist for the audience it was written for: white tech bros who will only listen to another white tech bro (the author basically says as much).

I’m a WOC working in tech and I’m certain many of us minority folk already know most of this stuff through experience and necessity. Diverse hiring practices bring more perspectives to the table and result in a better product. Big social media platforms will never be in th
Alexander Traykov
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
A piece about design ethics, while the writer focuses solely on US-based issues, ignoring the rest of the design world. Quotes like "If you work at company X, you should quit now" are pathetic, giving the fact that there are designers outside of your six figure-paycheck bubbles, basically pushing whole families just a bit over the poverty lines thanks to "unethical" companies. Extremely opinionated, irrational and at times god-awfully cliched. I get the point of it, I respect a couple of parts o ...more
Lennie Noiles
Apr 27, 2019 rated it liked it
A good rant

There were times I wanted to rate this book 4 stars, other times 2. I split the difference. Some very valid points. Sometimes just a rant.
Miguel Eduardo
Jun 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
I tried. I really tried to push through and read it all. I couldn't. I started to have doubts right at the start when it reads like a blog post bashing Twitter, Uber, FB... Then politics got mixed and we got into a Trump bashing frenzy. I'm the last person to support him, but if I'm reading a book on design (or so I thought) I don't expect US politics to be the central topic.

Then we got to this: "While the study doesn’t make a conclusive connection between mental health and social me
Sam Hutchings
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The World is Ruined By Design.

In this book, Mike takes the task the generations of designers who have let terrible things happen on their watch. From the Facebook designers who allow the company to harvest all of our data, to the designers of cages to put immigrant children in. At every level, Designers have both helped and hindered humanity, and the latter often feels like it’s winning.

Read this book if you’re interested in how you, as a designer, can make the world a better place for humanit
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading and a call to action for anyone working in the tech industry*. We had the chance to make digital products work for people, but instead chose to prioritize profits and egos to build platforms where Nazis run free, and products that help lock children in cages or sell our private data to the highest bidder. It's time we acknowledge that moving fast breaks not just things but the lives of people, especially those already marginalized and vulnerable.

The author argues for redefining the
Esben Groendal
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
The main points of the book are good and worth thinking about. The main subject of the book is how design as a profession (but actually everyone involved in product) can prevent corporate misdeeds as we've seen recently.

I personally like the author's style. It's punchy and to the point, and that's the reason I really enjoyed his other books. But this one feels poorly edited in the sense that it's very repetitious. The same few cases are being brought up again and again, so it's basic
Scott Boms
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Required reading for any designer whether you work on the web, building apps, or making anything really. There’s something here for you. Mike pulls no punches in the way only he does. And we need to hear it.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m going to read this book again and again for years to come. It’s an important book. Brilliantly angry and rightfully so. If you work in tech (and not only if you’re a designer) please give this book a good read. I think we all need to learn a thing or two from Mike Monteiro and his amazing book.
Deniz Cem Önduygu
Jul 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ethics, design, politics
There is absolutely nothing about you that makes you different than anyone else. (p.14)

Every human being on this planet is obligated to do their best to leave this planet in better shape than we found it. Everyone on the planet is obligated to respect every other human being on this planet. (p.19)

A designer’s job is always to look out for society’s best interest. (p.52)

This job isn’t about helping Nike sell shoes; it’s about making sure everyone has shoes. (p.
Vytautas Alech
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: design, 2019
Great points on design ethics and licensing. Everything else is highly uninformed, social justice trend chasing rant looking at world through the distorted silicon valley lens. Lacks the global big picture view of how majority of the world runs. Granted most of the statements apply to most industries across the globe, but most of them also miss the mark or are too general. Important concepts such as free speech are barely covered, or are looked at in the US context without any historical, global ...more
Andrea Rossi
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: learn
A must read for anybody working in tech (don't get misled by that Design in the title, it's really about all of us). The book brings back the concept of ethics, which seems to have been long forgotten in the tech scene, and makes a good case for it, highlighting many cases where companies have strayed from the right path. It also gives ideas on what we need to do to start fixing things. The style is also very direct (not a surprise if you know the author) which makes it easy to read and never bo ...more
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think everyone, background in design or not, should read this book. It's something my mind continues to come back to given I'm grappling with problems spanning the service of design and design services, pervasive and recent technology, business models and values, and systemic societal issues. I would have been super grateful to have read this book back when I was in architecture school a few years ago trying to decide where and how to work and what I believed in. It gets the gears turning, is ...more
Brennan Letkeman
Jul 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Have you ever wanted to read a 200 page twitter thread of tepid "hot" takes whose only common thread seems to be 'directionless anger'?

good news! here's the book.
A few basics about design ethics and a handful of talking points about licensing for designers near the end. Has a very narrow worldview (Americentric), with next to no backing research. It reads a lot like a rant, but is humdrum instead of fiery.

I like the idea of this book, the driving premise, but not the execution.
Kasey Wang
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Real Design? Read this Book.

My friend glances over and says, “Woah - you said this was a design book, but it’s talking about business, lawyers, and politics? I didn’t know Designers [had this much influence].” I smirked wide and remembered they key to the book is that we are gatekeepers, not mere pixel pushers. We do have such influence through our choices.

I let him know, “I’ve been realistically paid more to tell people to stop building dangerous things and to educate other desi
Vuk Trifkovic
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very opinionated, in a good way. Very pragmatic, in a good way. Reads well and is entertaining, though a bit predictable.

The thing is, in many ways it jumps to the solution without neccessarily giving tools to people how to think through ethic issues. It is *very* good on giving you tools on how to act on ethic issues.
May 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
I can’t believe I wasted my time reading this. A few of the examples are valid (data harvesting and dark patterns) but nothing that anyone living in 2019 doesn’t already know. Everyone involved in a product does have some level of responsibly but not nearly the level the author assumes.

The book falls apart with weak arguments (all of which can easily be debunked) and many of the rants just go over the edge. The author is completely out of touch with reality and the level of arrogance is astonis
Mike Gunderloy
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Those who ding this work because it's an unabashedly political rant and call to arms are, I think, completely missing the point. Many designers (and by that term Monteiro and I both include everyone who designs things, including software developers and product managers as well as UI/UX professionals) have become utterly complicit in the unethical practices of the venture-capital fueled giant tech companies, and it's time for this to just stop. If you don't agree with that statement, you might as ...more
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A much needed call to arms for the generation of designers that grew from hacking index.html in a notepad to building the infinite mobile scroll that’s hijacked the world’s attention.

This book is chocked full of uncomfortable but important truths about our trade. Where we’ve been, where we are, and the monumentally stupid shit we created along the way.

I’ve long felt “Design is a Job” should be handed out to all design grads with their diplomas, perhaps “Ruined by Design” should be i
Iván Frantar
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Overall enjoyable and spot on on many things. Was too repetitive on—even rantish, considering in how many chapter talked about over and over and over again about the same thing—Twitter and Jack Dorsey; so, I got it Mike, you don't like Jack. It illustrated well though, the point over the dangerous effects and features these companies protect that boost harassment and abuses on social networks because in turn bring better monetisation. I probably would have put more emphasis on Facebook given _al ...more
Anna Livingston
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you're a designer and/or you work in the tech industry, you need to read this book. (In fact, even if you don't work in the tech industry but have any interest at all in it, you need to read this book.) It's deliberately infuriating at times – I had to read the early chapters and their litany of unremitting, offensive fail from Facebook, Uber, and Twitter in small doses to avoid hurling my iPad across the room – but that fury is necessary to understand the level of damage bad design, and more specifical ...more
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
A very uneven book. There were multiple times where I wanted to give it 1 star even though I more or less agree with the premise. Quite often, especially in the first half or so of the book, it feels like the author gets more preoccupied with ranting than with arguing his point. While I tend to find this entertaining (Mr. Monteiro knows how to deliver his rants in an amusing way), it's not all that persuasive. I'd prefer more persuading when it comes to such an important topic.

In the
Jul 07, 2019 rated it liked it
„There‘s a whole chapter coming up about this, and I mentioned it earlier, but I need to include it here as well..“

This direct quote from page 144 of the book illustrates my main problem with it. It seems like an interesting 20 page essay unnecessarily stretched out into a 200 page book. The author makes some very good points about the power of UX designers and their role in designing the world we (have to) live in and makes the reader think about licensing etc. - but all of that hap
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you work in tech it’s worth the reading, but...

The book addresses a very important point: the ethics that we follow or lack to follow in how we design products and how we take into account (or not) the impact of those design decisions.

Good reading and food for thought and really a book that must be read by all people involved in the design of products (not just digital ones), although the author seems to think that ONLY designers should be the gatekeepers. I’d disagree with tha
Foster Bass
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a really important book and you should read it. It is written for designers but if you’ve gotten to this page, you’re probably a designer by Mike Monteiro's definition and you should read this book to help you grasp the importance of your work and the responsibilities you have to society.

The reasons for the three-star rating are the editing and proofreading. Many of the author's points were repeated, sometimes verbatim. Occasionally he stated that something was worth repeating, but most
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You don't have to be a designer to get something from this book. If you make things, make decisions about things that are made, sell things that are made, or consume things that are made, there are things in this book that can speak to you. Certainly the author spends a lot of time badmouthing Jack Dorsey of Twitter (who frankly deserves it), but look past the screeds for the real meat of this book. Which is: There is an ethical way to do things (and if there isn't, like if you're building cages ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
An important read for anyone in the tech industry (especially for designers). While sometimes the tone can be a bit berating, the points are apt.

I'm unsure how I feel about the ultimate push for creating a standardized practice that is regulated by an overarching committee. I understand the argument for it especially when it comes to fighting back against things designers feel are unjust, but I think it also creates more $$ hoops and potential inclusion problems that other industries fight (so
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read Ruined by Design with a bunch of my co-workers and we had a lot of great conversations about it. It's an enlightening read, if a bit rough at times, because of its candor.

It starts off strong, and I feel like the first half of the book is a must read for designers, but it gets a bit repetitive and sort of falls short of the promised hopeful ending. Monteiro does a great job of illuminating many problems and conundrums designers face (and have created, made worse, etc. etc.) an
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Everyone should read this. Especially designers, developers, content editors, project managers, anyone that touches the web... it's a powerful perspective.

The reason it isn't 5 stars is because of the repetition. It needed heavier editing. There's such a strong and important message, but by the 2/3rds mark it was growing tiresome. More examples would help; every so often a new topic would crop up, and I would perk up, but then the same examples, the same "we failed" comments with var
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Some say the clothes make the man. Others say it’s opinions. Co-founder of Mule, Mike likes to have a bet both ways. His 2012 book, Design is a Job, was a love letter to hard work, self-awareness, and the importance of a good tailor.

Mike cultivates his reputation around being serious about design, human rights, a damn fine joke, and the Phillies. His philosophy of supportive antagonism
“If you believe you need to do what your boss wants because they’re paying you, you also need to believe the doctor should provide the oxycodone if the addict is willing to pay for it. The exchange of cash for services doesn’t supersede ethics. Following unethical orders won’t keep you out of jail.” 3 likes
“Ethics cannot be a side hustle.” 3 likes
More quotes…