We’ve all heard about usability, accessibility and user experience. Especially in software.

Yet, egoistic dark patterns exist, and are becoming a pain.

Can we aim at a different target?

Let’s review what all of this means, and set a better goal: altruistic design.

1. Usability

What is usability?

The degree to which an object, device, software application, etc. is easy to use with no specific training.

— Wiktionary entry on usability

2. Accessibility

How about accessibility?

Features that increase (software) usability for users with certain impairments.

— Wiktionary entry on accessibility

In light of this definition, it seems that “usability” is implicitly restrained to users without “certain impairments”, the list of which is unknown.

Accessibility is just a part of usability, one in which we recognise that not all human beings are the same.

3. User Experience

What is user experience?

The desired, expected, or actual experience of a user interacting with a product, especially as it relates to the design of the product’s user interface.

— Wiktionary entry on user experience

In other words, this is about the desired feeling that the product should convey to users. This does not have to be related to usability or accessibility.

One can aim to make a design frustrating, infuriating or pleasant.

4. Altruistic Design

The centerpiece is humans. Objects, software and services that are aimed to be used by people should be humane.

Design for humans is about improving people' life: it must decrease suffering, and help towards happiness.

Altruistic design does not distinguish people according to their physical differences, but accommodates them. Altruistic design does not distinguish people according to their cultural, linguistic or political background, but accommodates them.

Altruistic design does not use results in psychology research to deceive and force egoistic choices, but to favour the path of least suffering for the individual, the community and the world.

5. Conclusion

I’ve defined the term “altruistic design” as an umbrella term regrouping usability, accessibility and user experience towards a good goal.

Are your design, products and services altruistic?