Tragic Design — a book about design ethics

over 6 years ago from , Designer @ Google | Author @ O'Reilly | Podcaster @ DesignReview

Hey everyone!

After two long years of writing along side my co-author, we have finally released the book: Tragic Design.

It's about the true impact of bad design and how to fix it. We felt there was a need to shed light on the discussion of Design Ethics by exploring the ways bad design can harm people and offering up solutions.

We are excited to have John Maeda writing the Foreword to the book, who has been a long supporter of inclusive design.

The book is out right now and I made this website for it: http://www.tragicdesign.com/

Were excited to finally have this out in the hands of designers, engineers, and others making products, and start making an impact on this issue.

On our launch day, we'd appraise all your support in spreading the news! :)


  • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, over 6 years ago

    Looks interesting, but I would've loved to get a little bit more info about what's inside, such as a table of contents of sample chapter.

    3 points
  • Jesse C.Jesse C., over 6 years ago

    Nothing to say right now but I'm excited to read it. I think it's an important topic, especially as time goes on.

    3 points
  • Josiah TullisJosiah Tullis, over 6 years ago

    What has your experience working with O'Reilly publishing been so far? Can you speak to how you went about pitching the book and negotiating the deal?

    2 points
    • Jonathan Shariat, over 6 years ago


      It all started with this tweet

      After that someone from O'Reilly reached out and over a few weeks I wrote a few pitches. They have a template for this so its making sure you cover all the bases: 1. The basic idea of the book 2. Who will be the audience 3. Will this still be relevant in 1 or 2 years 4. Are there books that already do a good job of this topic

      I had pitched two ideas when I wrote the article How bad UX killed jenny

      I saw that there was a topic that I was passionate about and others were too. We wanted better for Jenny and so many others. I looked and saw some great books on design ethics but I felt people needed to see practical examples to understand the breadth of how design can harm. Death is a clear example but dark patterns and exclusion are much more subtle. So I set out to write a book that would help designers, engineer, and other product people to decide for themselves what their ethical red lines are and what they can do about it.

      Cynthia joined in when early editing began. She was adding so much content!

      As for royalties and such, you're not going to get rich of a book. The amount of time we have spent on the book would be worse than minimum wage I think. If there is a topic you care about though, its a great way to get that knowledge out into the world

      2 points
      • Josiah TullisJosiah Tullis, over 6 years ago

        Thanks for sharing.! It's great to hear how passionate you are on this topic and how O'Reilly helped you get these ideas out.

        0 points
    • Cynthia Savard Saucier, over 6 years ago

      I was brought in as the first technical reviewer and ended up writing a lot of feedback. I was impressed with how Jonathan listened to my comments without being defensive. He just really wanted to make the book better! When I joined officially the project we negotiated between Jonathan and I for a % share of the royalties that would represent our total input in the project. As Jonathan mentioned, you don't write a book to make money!

      O'Reilly is very supportive and our editor was great at giving us enough information to do things the proper way... even if it was our first writing experience. We were assigned an editor, a copyeditor/corrector, a technical reviewer, a production manager and an illustrator. They were all incredible!

      1 point
  • Noah SNoah S, over 6 years ago

    Why did you choose the Atlantic Portuguese Man o' War for the cover of your book? According to Planet Deadly it is only the third most poisonous jelly thing.

    1 point
  • Jonathan Shariat, over 6 years ago

    PS Feel free to ask us any questions about the book or the topic.

    1 point
  • Dean HaydenDean Hayden, over 6 years ago

    Looks the ultimate 'not like this' read.

    0 points