Julian convinced Lola and a couple of others to help co-found the project last year. The group works with in-house teams, agencies, third-sector organizations, and collaborates with government teams on design considerations for minority communities. The group has grand ambitions of creating content that others can take into the world to grow the conversation toward more positive outcomes.
“I’m able to focus my skill set in an area that affects my community in a way that hopefully starts to address some of the inequalities that exist,” Lola said.
All of this is just what she does on a volunteer basis.
By day, Lola leads product strategy at Chainspace, a company that is developing technological solutions for blockchain companies. By night, she attends Ladies that UX London, and will soon be traveling to Boston to speak at the Talk UX conference taking place in October. She’s an avid mentor focused on helping other designers develop business and leadership skills, and she’s also the mother of a toddler that’s already showing signs of her mom’s strong character.
With World Interaction Design Day just a day away, and we reflect on the theme of inclusion and diversity in design, Lola’s work reminds us of design’s impact beyond the screen and asks designers to evaluate what their true purpose is.
The UX designer’s dharma
Dharma is a Sanskrit word with many meanings in several Indian religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. Though it doesn’t have a direct western translation, it is a concept that is studied in many westernized spiritual practices, such as yoga. I have come to understand it as a higher purpose and a righteous duty.
When Lola and I chat, we don’t discuss the term dharma per se, but the concept emanates from her words. It is clear she is passionate that the purpose of a designer’s work is essentially to make the world a better place, and to leave the world better than how we found it.
“If we [as designers] are making decisions in our everyday that end up having a negative impact on even just one human being because we didn’t know how to consider them, we should try to do better,” Lola said.
“If we care about equality of outcome for everybody, then we should be doing the most we can to consider what those differences are and how best to support them. In design, that’s what we’re here for. We’re not here just to push out what our vision of what the world should be, we’re here to actually make sure that the world is suitable for the people who live in it — and that we are part of making that happen.”
This isn’t about idealism, but rather an observation that the people who navigate toward careers in UX design generally want to help people. She sees designers in a position to recognize potential opportunities for and to evoke change.
“It’s not a political act. It’s more if you want to do good and you know how to do good, why not do good? And if that’s easy to do, then let’s all do it,” she said.