What if 100 million people used your product?

Show notes

What if 100 million people used your product? You celebrate, meet KPIs and have happy business managers.

But what else happens? Especially in an ecological and social sense. What are consequences?

How can you reduce or even prevent negative consequences?

Check out the Artefact Tarot Cards of Tech that I mention in the episode.

Love, Sandy


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Show transcript

What if 100 million people used your product? That's the question I want to dive deeper into with you today.

And with that, welcome to the Green the Web Podcast, a podcast about ecologically and socially sustainable design. I'm your host, Sandy Dähnert, a freelance UX, UI designer and researcher based in Cologne, Germany, and the mind behind Green the Web.

And it's a question I discovered in the Artifact Tarot Cards of Tech a while ago. By the way, they are highly recommended to check out. I linked them in the description of this podcast episode and I integrated this question also in my green UX UI design course. And it's one of those questions that many people don't really know how to answer, especially for digital products, because they think, well, what if 100 million people use my product, then? Well that's awesome. Yes, that's one of the answers. But there is much, much more to it. So you might have a website or application or online shop, or you might be the designer or product manager of a website, a fitness platform, an online shop, a social media app, a digital insurance pricing tool, an intranet or something else. Name it. There are so many different digital products out there and really think about what's the current status of that digital product or the digital products you're working for. How many people are using it today already? And what if hundred million people used your product in the future? Maybe you're already there. Then choose another higher number for yourself. But I guess for most of us there is no 100 million users for your product. So really think about what's the current status of your digital product, how many people are using it today, and what if 100 million people used it? Maybe that's awesome. Maybe there's a celebration when you hit those 100 million users. Maybe it's a range you can't even imagine for your product. Maybe you're already there, such as Instagram or Facebook or TikTok, or notion or Medium, or Miro or so many other digital products that are out there. And then, okay, you celebrate those 100 million users. Your KPIs are probably met. Your business partners are super happy. You might get a pay raise, your product is popular and gets a lot of media coverage. All of those things could happen. But what else happens? And then we dive deeper into the ecological and social sense of this question. So it could be that more resources are needed to host this website to produce this product, to maintain this online shop, to ship all the goods that you sell on this platform. Probably there's more men and women power to work for that digital product or that product in general, but also digital resources, data server space, greater performance scales, a lot of data that is transferred back and forth, more products that are sold, more materials that are needed for those products, more time that people spend in front of their devices, more energy that is needed to run those devices, more consume more traffic on the streets, such as with Pokemon apps, for example. More products that are transported through cities. With all of those online shops, more stress. It could be more hectic. It could be more workload. The society might get changed. Whole industries might change more of a lot of different things. So think about what would it be for your digital product ecologically and socially? You can even pause here and write down a couple of things that come to mind. And you could even relisten to the examples that I just mentioned, really, in an ecological and social sense. What changes if you have 100 million users for your product? And even if you're far away from getting there, or being there, or even wanting to be there, how can you reduce or even prevent negative consequences from getting more users over time? Whether that is lightweight design, green e-commerce, smarter logistic ideas, sustainable production of products, alternative solutions, calm design, intentional consumption there's so many things you can think of how can you integrate ecologically and socially positive behaviors with green nudges, with embracing diversity, with accessibility, raising awareness for ecological and social matters, with tips on how to reduce environmental impact. Think about how your digital product contributes to a better society, to a better tomorrow, to a better ecological and social sustainability, and do your best to adapt. Not when you have those hundred million users, but when you have the first ten or your first thousand. If a website with 50 users per month has five megabyte of data weight per page, it's heavy, but it's not that big of a deal because it's 50 users per month. If a website with 100 million users per month has five megabyte of data weight, it's a huge problem. The scaling is most of the time a big problem, and our products need to be set up in the most ecologically and socially optimal way to scale without increasing the digital footprint or the footprint in general, whether that is just from the website itself or the application or online shop or whatever you have as a digital product, or whether it is the consumption that lies behind it. Often online shops, for example, selling goods. And it's often also a financial topic. If you have 100 million users and you need that much data space, then you need a lot of data centers. That costs a lot. If you have a cloud service, then certain amounts of data is free, usually for users to deal with. And then at some point you need to figure out to have some price levels for more data. This often can be also a chance for a financial income, for sure, but it's also a question of do we really want to promote that much data to be hosted in our cloud server to be uploaded into our application? Applications that need like user content, whether that's documents for your insurance or screenshots and images for a forum or whatever it is. There is so much content that needs to be uploaded to an application or also downloaded from applications and websites. If there is more users, we often need more space, more data centers, more financial aspects come in, so we need to reduce that. And if you have an application or an online shop or a website or any other digital product that you really want to scale up to get big, then think about ecological and social sustainability from the get go from this, start from the very beginning and really think about what if 100 million people used your product, not just in a way of well, then our investors are happy, then our KPIs are met, then we can celebrate, then we got it. Then we have everything we ever wanted to achieve. But think about the consequences that it takes. Think about what social media apps like Instagram and TikTok and Snapchat and Facebook and all of those things have changed in our society. How much more we have in a positive way, access to information and sharing and getting to know other people's lives and circumstances and challenges and all of those good things that come from social media as well. But also think about the negative consequences and how it really changed our society in good and bad ways. For sure. A lot of bad ways as well. Think about all of those tools like Notion or Miro or Mural or any other tool that you use in your business environment, whether that's notebook applications or whiteboard solutions or any other thing. There is a lot of data that is used. There is a lot of smart solutions that we can implement from the very beginning. For example, notion is definitely not the most performing tool. It loads really slowly. If you put a lot of interactive elements into your notebook on notion. And it's quite heavy. And if the designers of notion not that this particular tool is like the that I want to hit or target at this moment. Just as an example, I have nothing against notion, but just thinking it as a designer of a tool like that from the very beginning of okay, we want this to be available or used by many, many, many, many people globally, worldwide. Then think about the consequences of what you put into those solutions, of the features you offer, of the ecological and social footprint that you have with it. As I said, it comes from data. It comes from behavior science into nudging into really the psychology into how can we make this society a better place, how can we help our nature to regenerate or saturate and get better instead of getting worse? And this question what if 100 million people use your product seems so simple at the beginning. But if you really dive deeper into it in the positive and the negative consequences that come out of it, it gets deep. And I know we always just want to see the positive sides, the financial aspects, the popularity aspects, the then we've made it aspects what we need to have a look on, the negative consequences if we keep going the way we are going at the moment, how can we improve to get better? Not just thinking about hooking people of how to have the highest engagement on your platform, to have the most users in your industry, on the platform you're offering, but what you leave as a footprint. We need to consider that in our KPIs and our business proposals, in everything we do, because we all suffer from it. We all have to deal with the overload of information we have right now, because some people just didn't think about that from the first beginning of how to stay mentally healthy in those times, not just for financial sake, but also for the sake of our society and our nature. So choose your one, 2 or 3 digital products you're working on right now. Maybe you're, as I said, a designer, a product owner, product manager, a project manager, you're the CEO or whoever you are of this product. Choose one, two, three what you're working on right now and ask this question. Have a look at the status quo of where you are right now. Have a look at where you want to be in the future, where you want to get to. And then think about what are the positive and negative consequences. What do we have to change? In order to not increase our footprint in a negative way, whether that's ecologically or socially, how can we ensure that this is a positive thing for the future, for those people, for passive users, for nature, for all the actions that are included? Because we always just look at those target users. We have those personas, those 4 to 5 different people that we think, yeah, this is the product, this is what our product is for. Or we don't even think about that. We just say it's for all users, but we don't really design for all users. We never design for all users. It's always a certain target group or certain target groups that we design for. But then we often also leave out certain disability questions, and we always leave out nature and don't have a look at how our impact is on the environment around us. Have a look on all Actants as also the users or the people outside in the world who are negatively impacted by the usage of this product of your target group, and whether this is, for example, an application for young adults or for kids in the age of like 15, 16 years old. And their parents are definitely passive people in this whole realm that you have to address and think about. How is your application changing the lives of others around whether that is also a delivery service that you have, and you have your one hour delivery, uh, time frame, for example, and all of those bikes and cars driving around in the city and disturbing other people who didn't order anything on your platform. But the traffic jams, the parking everywhere, on the sidewalks and on the streets is disturbing. People. And there were many other factors in it, actually. But really think about how can you have the least negative impact? Best of it would be, of course, no negative impact at all. And to have the greatest positive impact on the environment and society. So try it out. Use the next 5 to 10 minutes just to really think about what if 100 million people used your product? Think about it.

And if you're interested in hearing more about ecological and social sustainability, then subscribe to this podcast. I'm always talking about those topics, especially in UX, UI design, and how we can implement methods, questions, and things like that in our daily design work and projects. And this is season two of the podcast. So dive into the many awesome other episodes that are already published and rate the podcast if you enjoy the show, I'm always happy to see the ratings of yours. It really means a ton to me. And visit me on greentheweb.com or via Instagram or LinkedIn at Green the Web. I'm happy to hear about your thoughts on today's episode, to connect with you, read from you, all of those things. And then see you in the next episode.

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