The Designer’s Oath

Samantha Dempsey and Ciara Taylor

Designers are now responsible for creating more than ever before—not only designing services, but also experiences, environments, products and systems for millions of people. With this increased influence, we must take a step back and recognize the increased responsibility we have to those we design for. We can learn from other professions, like healthcare, where those who practice medicine acknowledge their responsibility by swearing to uphold the Hippocratic Oath. This binds them to a clearly defined set of rules that guide the ethics of their interactions with patients. Designers also now have the ability to impact human health as well as the health of the environment itself, so we need a similar code of ethics to guide us.

The Designer’s Oath brings together designers from disparate disciplines and backgrounds to create collaborative Oaths that speak across design practices and organizations. The traditional boundaries of design are quickly expanding, and our codes of ethics must be as flexible and easy to redefine as the process of design itself. The Designer’s Oath is a tool that is applied to our individual design processes to ensure that the end result does good.

The Designer’s Oath team is excited to team up with the SustainableUX community to collaboratively define a code of ethics during the conference. Samantha and Ciara, the curators of the Designer’s Oath, will share a brief history of the project and the conversations that have happened throughout the its evolution. They will also share the Oaths created by SustainableUX speakers to kick-start the conversation of ethics in SustainableUX.

We encourage conference attendees to join the conversation by creating and sharing their own Oaths throughout the conference. By combining speaker and attendee Designer’s Oaths, we will collaboratively document the ethical values of the SustainableUX community and share those with the rest of the world to spark conversations that will live on beyond the conference.


Samantha Dempsey is a Senior Behavior Change & Experience Designer at Mad*Pow where she designs interactions between people, their bodies, and healthcare systems. Her background in illustration informs her approach to experience design as she incorporates narrative flow, visual storytelling, and sequential art into her work. She researches and creates tools to facilitate visual communication in the clinic and beyond. In her spare time, she enjoys embroidering patterns of bacteria onto household objects.

Ciara Taylor is the Managing Director of Behavior Change Design at Mad*Pow where she applies her knowledge of games to design playful and meaningful experiences for behavior change. Keeping one foot in the design world and the other in the gaming world, Ciara researches and designs new ways to create community engagement through elements of play. When she isn’t designing playful experiences, she plays games, gushes over cute sloths and introduces fellow Mad*Pow folks to new music and vocabulary.