As a product person, have you ever dreamt about having a positive effect on society? To save the world as a UX designer or product manager? To create a product which really has an impact on other people’s lives? Well, of course many of us want to. But how can a product, an application or whatever digital creation solve poverty, human-traffic or whatever social problem? How can innovation with a good design change society? This article will show a few products aiming to change society in a positive way. Products for social change? There are people who dreamt big enough and made awesome products which have real effects on people’s lives.
Let’s check a few global problems and if there are apps for them!
Products that create social change for…
One of the greatest ideas I’ve ever seen, the free Be My Eyes mobile app brings sight to the blind and visually impaired. When a blind person has an everyday issue, like if a bottle of milk is out of date or they cannot find their keys, they can reach someone to help with the app. Through videochat, the app forms a connection between blind people and volunteers with sight.
The application already has over half a million users across 150 countries. On one side, it helps blind people solve everyday challenges. On the other, it’s creating social responsibility in others who commit themselves to helping people with disadvantages.
By harnessing technology, human connection and the power of generosity, the app helps blind and visually impaired individuals lead more independent lives.
Although many of us live in a welfare society, malnutrition confronts more people than you might imagine. Today, 815 million face undernourishment worldwide. But luckily, we can solve this issue, as just US $0.50 feeds one child for a day. That’s what the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) believes in and fights for.
Their Share The Meal app makes it extremely easy to feed kids suffering malnutrition and hunger. With this app you can decide to “share your meal” with one kid by donating US $0.50 to WFP. The app’s transparency means you can see the progress and where meals are distributed.
People living in big cities have to face the day-to-day problem of homelessness. Most of the time we give money or food, or in best case, sometimes visit a homeless shelter to take care of them. But reintegrating these people into society poses the biggest problem.
BEAM helps homeless people get back to work to earn money and sustain a normal life. A homeless charity presents its members (homeless people) to BEAM, whose associate plans a training with them aligned with their talents, experience and abilities. Then BEAM crowdfunds the training. (That’s where anyone can donate money without membership.)
When crowdfunding raises the required amount, training begins with help of a BEAM associate with which homeless people can return to work to earn their own living. Later, when they become financially stable, they can help a new BEAM member go through the same process to get back on their feet.
Would you imagine that buying a certain product, like a smartphone, T-shirt, toothbrush, supports human trafficking? It sounds weird but sadly is true. The Slavery Footprint survey reveals which purchases support slavery and human trafficking in the background of everyday consumption.
The Traffick Cam application helps prosecute human trafficking. Taking four pictures of a hotel room where sex trafficking may happen helps identify where human traffickers room people. This tells authorities known routes taken in shuttling people around the globe.
With Traffic Cam, the authorities can identify where someone is abused if they get a picture of the crime scene.
Litterati wants to make our planet clean again. Two little kids asked their father why litter was lying on the street inspired the initiative. The application started as a personal Instagram account where XY took artistic pictures of trash on the streets. Since then, it has drawn an enormous following. Now the movement counts more than 1 million pieces of litter shot.
This data help organizations and governments solve pollution problems in their cities.
Here you can watch the inspiring TED talk by Jeff Kirschner how the application was born.
At UX studio, we did a lab project for solving an everyday problem in Africa. We designed a chatbot application, Nuru, to help communication in low income countries. Thinking of it only as an experimental project, we did not develop it further. We had aimed to find a product which could create social change and solve a real-life problem.
How often does biased media influence people? How can we judge the truth of what we read? Have can we stop getting deceived? This question lead the World Forum for Democracy to hold a competition to find out.
One winner of the products for social change, the Nupinion website, has the mission to empower people with information. The site checks facts to help avoid fake news. The site gives quality journalism and expert reviews to show both sides of the coin.
When your company is not about changing society directly…
So you feel inspired, but your company is not working on a product to solve global problems? No worries. Do “small” things to have a positive impact on the lives of people in need.
Tips: Ask an expert. Many civil organisations which you and your team can join help people in need.
At UX studio, we made 50 portions of food for homeless people. By doing this, we worked to let homeless people know the world has not forgotten them.
Such action do not require many resources: a creative session for kids in an orphanage, sharing food with the poor, visiting nursing homes. It only needs the dedication to help and others similarly dedicated.
So, happy social impacting this year! 😉
Have you ever used these or other products for social change? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below!
Read more from us
Want to read a concrete example of doing good with UX? I just finished a new case study about designing UX in an app for people with disabilities.
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