Can UX change the world? 

UX is an empathetic and user centric approach of designing products and services for users. It is highly used in resolving complex problems associated with the usability of products and services in digital spaces. However, there are many other conflicting problems faced by the society outside this ‘Digital World’, which requires our immediate attention. Can we possibly use UX to address these complex social challenges ? Can we use UX to bring social change? Can we use ‘UX for Good’?

The answer to these questions is ‘YES’.

Design agencies like IDEO, Daylight and Smallspaces are ideating services and products for social impact using combination of experience design, design thinking and other design principles.

This article highlights the use of UX for social good through products/services that incorporated user experience design for development.

Why UX for Social Impact?

Design as a discipline is being used to counter social challenges by developing products.However, it just improves the life of people who used these product. But to initiate a social change/impact, this isn’t enough.

To create a social impact, it is important that we motivate people to perform certain ‘Actions’ which, in turn would lead to social change.

The user centric approach of designing products would help to identify how users could be motivated to perform certain actions. Thus, I believe that the process of user experience design is a perfect fit.

Experiences for Social Good


UNICEF Kid Power Band 


Mission- Giving Kids the power to save lives
Company – Daylight and UNICEF


The UNICEF Kid Application tracks the physical activity of a kid through the UNICEF Kid Power Band. After completion of a mission (physical activity), the kids earn points for their mission and this unlocks therapeutic food packets for severely malnourished children around the world.

This experience is an initiative to motivate physical activity of kids in United States and teach them the importance of being a global citizen.

It was interesting to see that the impact itself acted as a motivator for the kids to perform an ‘Action’ (physical activity).

“Badges are cool, but they don’t really help anyone. I would rather earn more food for other      kids.” –

-Anna, age 10

It seemed that they conducted user research to understand their target audience (kids) and capitalized on the analysis that kids inherit desire to help their peers. Also the application was designed to give a feel of an adventure and travel app which additionally helped the entire experience.

Genocide Museums in Rwanda, Germany


Mission- Improve the experience of visitors at Genocide Museum
Organization – UX for Good


The museum basically educates the visitors about the horrors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi in the hopes of inspiring change. Nearly one million people were killed due to the unfortunate incident. However, the visitors were emotionally broken after learning the facts, artifacts and stories  about the mass atrocity .

‘UX for Good’ incorporated user experience design process where they conducted user research and determined that the experience lacked moments to reflect, and to share stories of hope. Maintaining the balance between empathy and compassion during the entire experience was the key. Incorporating the newly designed plan of the entire experience lead to visitors being motivated to do ‘act for humanity’.

Inzovu Curve


The museum underwent a digital transformation as well which helped them to stay connected with their visitors and spread words of hope for humanity. During the process, they also produced the ‘Inzovu Curve’ that helped modify the experience design. It also helped designer map the emotional impact of institutions around the world.



UX design encompasses before, during and after designing process of the product/service. This aspect of the UX process makes it very flexible to be incorporated in different forms and capacities. I think UX research specifically played a major role in designing products and services for social impact. Also, in both the projects, it was cited that the impact of the product/service on the target audience was recorded to understand whether the design served the purpose. So how can we address social challenges? I think, UX is a good place to start from.



Designing for Action, Not Reaction: UX for Good and The Kigali Genocide Memorial

Capturing social value in UX projects, Andrew Mara, Miriam Mara

Design Critique : Citymapper – Transit Navigation


Citymapper is a transit application that helps users to map their journey’s efficiently by evaluating different city transport options and suggesting the best routes available with Real-Time updates. It is helping travelers across the major cities in the world to make their transit carefree and effortless.

This mobile application is critiqued on the basis of principles and design theories put forward by Don Norman in the book “Design of Everyday Things”.

Citymapper – Main Page



Main page provides good discoverability of varied transport modes through visual illustrations acting as signifiers.

‘Get me Somewhere’ tab with the ‘Search’ symbol acts as a signifier comprehending that the destination location is to be entered.

Within ‘Places’ section, ’Home’ and ‘Work’ tabs are available for users to set their work and home locations respectively thereby reducing chances for a user to make a mistake or slip.

According to Don Norman, “Well designed systems are resilient against failure”. Citymapper offers offline maps of different transport modes that helps travelers to be anxiety free even without an internet connection.

Citymapper – Suggestion Page




This page provided different route suggestions to reach desired destination.


The ‘Now’ tab helps to set an arrival or departure time for the journey. But due to poor discoverability of the tab, functionality of the button is not conceptualized by the user. Discoverability of the ‘Now’ Tab can be improved if Natural Mapping principle by Don Norman is followed. The ‘Now” tab can be placed after the destination location is specified for better conceptualization.

The time duration for journeys are displayed in the format of minutes only. Time is standardized to be evaluated in Hours and Minutes format in most of the scenarios. Thus conversion from ‘Minutes’ format to ‘Hours and Minutes’ format could lead to a slip or mistake by user.

If only knowledge in the world (App) is used, it would be difficult for the user to comprehend that ‘A’ refers to a Subway Train. This may lead to similarity error, if not addressed appropriately. (Similarity between Platform ‘A’ of a bus and Subway Train ‘A’). It is advisable that a correct signifier same as ‘Symbol of the Subway Train on the Main Page’ is incorporated for better discoverability.

Citymapper – Selected Route Summary



Overlapping of the data on the map is cited at many occasion while transiting.

The activities of the journey namely Walking, Waiting and Riding varied city transports are displayed in different colors. This helps the user to build a better conceptual model to access the information. Even though the information is complex in nature, distinct colors helps to get rid of any confusion that may exist while accessing the information.

Citymapper – Journey 

Flash cards (Separate Modules) are used to map the journey which constraints users to concentrate on one task at a time.

No directions are provided while walking thereby forcing the user to continuously look on the screen. This could lead to a slip, if he/she is an avid user of the app or a mistake, if he/she is a new user. This issue can be resolved if proper Real – Time visual (e.g Turn Left after 20m) and sound signifiers are incorporated within the application. As said by Don Norman, “Sound is essential as visual information because sound tells us about things we can’t see , and it does while our eyes are occupied elsewhere.”



It suggests best sections of subway trains to the users by excellent use of signifiers. This also helps to build a relationship between the application and the users.

Feedback is provided once the journey is completed by the user. It also gives an account of calories burnt, trees saved and money saved after completing the journey thereby generating a visceral response within users.


Overall, Citymapper is an excellent application for commuters and explorers. It provides authentic information and estimations with little or no error. The mobile application has few minor design problems which could be resolved easily. At the end of the journey, Citymapper brings a smile to its users face with its amazing feedback feature thereby encouraging people to use city transports.