Integrating sustainable design in companies is a marathon

Show notes

Bringing sustainability into companies is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes doors open quickly, sometimes very slowly. But it pays off in the long run.

Evaluate the status quo of what you're working with. Whether you're a freelancer doing a project with a client or whether you are an employee in a big or small company.

Identify blocks and opportunities.

Ask questions to see if there's actually an opportunity, such as whether there is bandwidth for sustainable design in the team? How much time do you offer yourself (product owners, designers and devs) to evaluate, conceptualise, test and build those features?

Ask questions regarding the mindset and knowledge around sustainability, such as can you form a community with other people in this company to foster sustainable design specifics?

You'll find 10 questions to answer within this episode. Use them to identify blocks and find ideas.

Mentioned links

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Show transcript

Welcome, everyone, to today's episode of the Green the Web podcast. A podcast about ecologically and socially sustainable design. As always, I'm your host, Sandy Dähnert, a UX UI designer myself.

And first of all, I want to thank you all for your messages on the soon opening Green UX design course. It's amazing to read all your comments and emails, your questions, your stories and all the other things that you are sharing with me. If you don't know what I'm talking about, there is a link down below to the Green UX UI design course details. I'm just so happy to see how you're responding to it and that you feel like there is this huge opportunity in green UX UI design. The same motivation and the same passion that I have for this topic. It's lovely to see in others as well.

In this episode, though, we will talk about how to strengthen sustainability in client work and in companies. Whether you're a freelancer working for clients or an employee in a company where you want to strengthen ecological or social sustainability. It could be all kinds of different specific topics within those areas. And the most important thing that I want to say before is bringing sustainability to companies and clients is a marathon. It's not a sprint. Sometimes doors open very quickly and sometimes very, very slowly. But I can tell you it pays off in the long run. To be absolutely honest, yes. I've felt all of the impatience and struggles and frustration with why is this not moving forward? How long can this journey be? Why is no one interested in it and really learning? And how can you work within a company or with a client to move forward in sustainable matters? Again, it's a marathon. It's not a sprint. And you have to know what you're working with in the company or with the client. So in the past couple of weeks, I've got a couple of messages that were regarding exactly that. One was in my company, there's an interest, but not enough to really get to grips with it. The only thing is that accessibility aspects are taken into account in iOS development because Apple places a lot of value on it and otherwise partially rejects new releases. We also had a single accessibility testing once, but nothing really came out of the findings. The pain just doesn't seem to be big enough for that, so it's not prioritized. Another message that I've got was the need to solve the communication between designers and developers. She said. We use Adobe XD for our designs and try to create components that streamline the handoff from final approved designs to build. But there is always plans for sustainable accessibility specs that seem to get lost. And I know both situations very, very well. And it's frustrating because you feel like, okay, here's someone who actually cares and you want to introduce things in a broader spectrum. But then things get lost. Things don't get prioritized. It feels draining to be very, very honest. So what we need to do for that is to identify blocks in working with the client or working in a company. And I have two different areas for myself that I always like to see or ask questions about. The first area is, is there actually an opportunity? And the second area is mindset, knowledge within yourself, within the client, within the company. And there is five questions that I would like to give you for both of those areas, like each of them, the five questions to see if there's actually an opportunity. And the first one is the biggest of them all, I guess. Do you have bandwidth in your team? How much time do you actually offer yourself your product owners, your designers, your developers to evaluate, to conceptualize, to test, and to build those features? Like how much space and time is there to think and build in those terms. And you have a couple of different steps in here already. It's a huge question. It's do you have time to evaluate more accessibility features, greener UX designs, mental health in your designs, inclusive design, diversity. Da da da da da. Even to evaluate. Do you have enough time for that? Do you then have enough time to conceptualize them to bring them onto paper? To design them. Do you have time to test them? Because as we know, testing is very valuable. And do you then have enough time to actually build those features so they don't get. To be put on the back burner. How much space and time is there to think and build in those terms. With this question comes the second question How much pressure lies on building new products and features in general? Is there a pressure to deliver fast? With ruthless prioritization. Well, then it gets a lot harder to build in new ideas, build in new mindsets and new features. Of course, if there's a lot of pressure on everything you're doing already, then you don't have the time to think. You probably don't even have the time to think in human centered design and definitely not in environment or society or humanity centered design and all of those words that are out there for it. How much bandwidth do you have? How much pressure lies on building new products and features? Question number three is how stiff are corporate structures? This is very important to know for yourself of how hard will the battle be. If a corporation or a company is very flexible and easy going, then it will be easier in the end to implement new mindsets and knowledge and ideas. If the structure is very stiff, yes, it will take probably even more time. I'm sorry for that already, but yes, it will then probably need more time. Question four is what workflows are blocking the integration of sustainable ideas? So do you detect any workflows that are, again, maybe very stiff or very complex or need a couple of different departments and people involved in it so it gets harder to integrate sustainable ideas? Or maybe also easier. Identify what workflows might be blocking the integration of those ideas. And then question number five in regards to if there is actually an opportunity to strengthen sustainability in your company or in the client, does it actually get priority or is it always on the back burner? Is it a nice to have or is it a must have? And there is companies, there's agencies, there is NGOs that there is a must have a need to have for inclusive design, for diversity, for mental health, for green design, for so many different things in sustainability. But for some it's just a nice to have. So for them, usually priorities are somewhere else. With this question, let's dive deeper into mindset knowledge, especially within yourself, your client or the company you're working in. I have another five questions for you that are exactly about mindset and knowledge. The first one is how much knowledge and skills do people have? So is there actually already a knowledge in the team and the designers, team developers, team business owners, marketing data analysis somewhere in this company? Is there a knowledge already about specific things? Because if not, then of course the obstacle is much higher or bigger because you still have to get this knowledge and those skills into people. The second question that comes with that is what mindsets do colleagues have when it comes to social or ecological sustainability? And we can have so many, many, many, many, many mindsets about that because people told us or we've seen people talking about social or ecological sustainability and maybe how bad or frustrating or that it's just a hippie thing to do, or there's just so many different thoughts people can have. So how clear is it to people that, for example, that accessibility is not only about permanently impaired people, but also about temporary and situational of, for example, I'm very sick at the moment and want to cook a vegetable soup, so I search for a recipe online or I have a baby, a young child that I need to carry in my left arm and I only have the right one at spare. And I'm very, very stressed. And I want to operate this website right now. And I'm in a very different space than the designer has been probably in the time that he or she has been designing this website. So he or she, he or she have put a couple of different things in this website than what I'm comfortable with in this very stressed situation right now. So how clear is it to people that those topics in this case accessibility is a lot broader than just the tip of the iceberg that we usually talk about with that is how clear is it that there are loads of benefits coming from ecological and social design, especially for page speed usability, SEO ranking, like the search engine ranking, including new users who can finally actually use the product or increasing conversion rates. How clear is it to people that there are those benefits? Because I keep getting messages about, well, how can I sell them green or in general sustainable design? How can I? Get them to thinking that it's not only disadvantages, I'm wondering what disadvantages are there. And I know that there are some that it can be scary. And especially when it comes to transparency and building up new knowledge. And that is, of course, work and time and effort that has to go into that. But there's not really a disadvantage in any kind of sustainability in design. So really honing in on to the benefits that come with all of that. Question three that I like to ask myself and others as well when it comes to mindset and knowledge is how deeply integrated is sustainability as a mindset within the team? So maybe there is people having certain mindsets that are spread out in the business and in the company. But how is it in your team that you're working in? Do you have maybe a very strong base that you can already? Get into and get more involved with, or is it really hard within the team to actually build up this mindset? And that definitely defines how hard or easy the process of strengthening sustainability in a company is and will be. With that comes number four. Question number four. Is there someone or a group of people who can form a community to foster specific sustainability topics? This can be cross-departmental, but also department specific like product design, development, marketing, data analysis. Name it. But is there an option to form a community, to bring ideas and thoughts and mindsets together and to work on a specific topic that could be accessibility, that could be mental health, that could be green design, It could be just lightweight design, like even more specific in certain sustainability areas. And I've done that. I've been in communities like that in, for example, in the last year with a client of mine in Accessibility Community of then it was like about 3 to 6 people in the community depending on how much time they did have because there was not much budget or free time for those people. But at least there was already a community that could be formed within the company to work on that topic. And that was very, very essential that a bunch of people could work on guidelines, could work on building up knowledge and then spreading it within the rest of the design team as well as within the company. And in this community, we met up every, let's say, about three weeks to discuss how things are going, how to keep evolving the guidebook that we slowly built up and designed, how to do audits, how to raise awareness within our own design team as well as in the company. And that was so essential. But yes, it takes still a very, very long time. It takes months to implement it into an existing and especially that was also a big corporation into huge companies. Yes, it takes time. You cannot change things from one day to the other. If it's a big company, you could possibly do that. If it's a smaller startup or solo business or things like that. But that's what you need to be aware of. What are you working with? And then is there a budget and free time to actually get involved in such a community and get behind those topics? That is very strongly connected with the questions we had in the beginning of. How pressured is feature and product design? Or do you have this extra space that you can actually form knowledge within deep within your teams? Can something like this build up slowly? It's one of the greatest tools to strengthen sustainability in companies. I definitely, definitely recommend doing that. And then the last one, question number five. Is, is there a regular knowledge exchange and insight sessions within the company to raise awareness? So this could be, for example, a Friday lunch event? So people are a little bit more at ease on Fridays usually. Um, and you could have a launch event and just talk about accessibility, for example, for half an hour as an offline or an online meeting. People just get inspired with what you have to say about accessibility in general. Just give them all the benefits, the facts and figures and numbers that stand behind accessibility or any other kind of sustainability topic. And educate people so that there is slowly or you plant those seeds and slowly people get into the mindset of this is important. This is really interesting. I want to integrate myself into such a topic and learn more about it myself. I want to form this community with you. You actually attract more people then and you educate and we need to educate each other because other people might have a very interesting topic and if they do a lunch event, then I would be happy to listen to that and learn more about it. Exchange knowledge within your company or within a client you're working with. Raise awareness for the topics you want to put emphasis on. So to sum it up, it's questions to see if there's actually an opportunity, especially when it comes to bandwidth, having time, having space, being not pressured in delivering very, very fast and quickly done features and products. It's about is there any blocking workflows, It's about is there a priority, is there a must have, is there a nice to have? And then questions regarding mindset and knowledge especially, is there knowledge already existing? What mindsets do people have? How can we change those mindsets? How can we bring in new knowledge? How deeply integrated is sustainability already in the heads of your team members? And can you form a community? Can you form a group of people who will work toward a specific topic as well as Can you educate people and raise awareness with knowledge exchanges and insight sessions and lunch meetings talking about. The topics you feel very passionate about.

As I said in the last episode already, if you want to know more about stuff like that, you can join my Green UX UI design course that opens its doors in mid-April. There is a self-study and a live class supported cohort available and the first live cohort will be available for beginning of May to end of June. So that's nine weeks together. You can check out all the details on the course curriculum and everything else. There is a link down below for that.

Other than that, that's it for today in this episode. Subscribe to the podcast. Share this episode with friends and colleagues. It helps so much. It's a free way to support my podcast with also. Additionally, maybe leaving a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. It's a chance to tell me what you love about the show and it helps others to discover it too. You can follow on Instagram at Green Tube or on LinkedIn at Green the Web. You can check out all the free resources on my website. And yeah, just spread the joy. Let me know what you got out of this episode and what you think helps a lot in strengthening sustainability in client work and in companies. To send me a message Instagram, LinkedIn and sustainable tech community I'm in. Whatever you like the most and then see you in the next episode in two weeks time.

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