Foundation series

Toward Design Trust—summaries from Prototyping the Future – World Wide Web Foundation

This post was written by Janice Dean, 3×3; Kara Dunford, Web Foundation; and Kaushalya Gupta, Web Foundation.


The design of trust, as defined by the Web Foundation in collaboration with key stakeholders, puts people and their needs before the platform, giving the user control over their choices online.

In the first in a series workshop on Trusted Design, hosted by the Tech Policy Design Lab and global design partners 3×3 and Simply Secure, participants collectively brainstormed opportunities and ideas for advancing this practice.

The second series of workshops aimed to produce more concrete examples of solutions and interventions for trusting design that would engage relevant stakeholders and address key challenges of misleading design (also referred to as “dark models”). We held the workshops on three different dates to accommodate time zones and bring together participants from around the world and across industries. In total, we heard from over 75 participants from 25 countries. Throughout our lab process, we spoke with people from around 100 organizations around the world.

Participants produced a set of six recommended solutions. To learn more about these recommendations, download the complete takeaways (PDF).

  1. Principles and guidelines: A set of best practices for product teams to follow that can also serve as benchmarks for evaluation. Principles such as accessibility and plain language protect the most vulnerable user groups, including older people and those with less digital literacy, from misleading designs.
  2. Public awareness campaign: An inventory of global and diverse stories that explore internet users’ experiences with misleading design and trust design, highlighting in particular the voices of the Global South and marginalized communities. The stories could be turned into animations or games and used as the basis of a social media campaign.
  3. Participatory reporting tool: An opportunity to make misleading design more visible and reportable. The notification tool would serve as an awareness tool for both users and regulators.
  4. Assessment framework: A tool to judge the impact of technological design and serve as a basis for regulation. The framework would be based on the above principles and guidelines.
  5. Global Accreditation System: An incentive for companies looking to position their brand as “pioneers” of Trusted Design.
  6. Internationally applicable regulatory framework: With regulations at the national level, a working group to initiate dialogues and international standards to maintain consistency. A global coalition could be responsible for setting and implementing ‘standards’ or ‘best practices’.

Participants also described the key ideas that should guide this work, regardless of the specific recommendations that are implemented. These ideas ranged from involving and concentrating the voices of the most vulnerable and countries in the South to adopting cross-sectoral approaches to tackle this problem. To learn more, download the complete takeaways (PDF).

During the workshops and in our conversations on this issue, several common questions emerged, including: what are the right incentives to make these recommendations work? how can we make sure complaints are heard so people feel motivated to report in the first place? Which global body has sufficient authority and legitimacy to grant accreditations? These and other questions (PDF) need to be addressed as we collectively move forward.

For the next round of engagements, we plan to bring together stakeholders who have demonstrated commitment and investment in advancing trust design to review recommendations and discuss next steps. This will include:

  • Test prototypes developed based on insights generated by our co-creation workshops and previous research
  • Review and shape recommended solutions for trust design and develop action plans for implementation
  • Explore how a potential coalition would implement the recommended solutions

If you have any questions or would like to contribute to this final round of reviews and co-creation of action plans, please contact [email protected]

We look forward to continuing our work on trusted design as we work to develop solutions that put people and their needs first.


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