Design for Social Impact with Hayley Hughes – Field Notes: Intersection 2020

I’m posting my field notes from the final session Intersection 2020 before the other sessions, as the final keynote left me with too much of a buzz not to share tonight. The rest of my field notes will be posted here over the next few weeks.


Hayley Hughes, UX Manager at Shopify, brought Intersection 2020 to a beautiful close tonight. Her well-crafted talk explored how we could expand the concepts of designs systems to tackle bigger challenges, including ethics in design.

Key Takeaway

Haley’s keynote had all the hallmark beauty you’d expect from a designer, not just in her slides but in the structure and message of her talk. She defined design systems for us as follows: Design is all about relationships which are built on thousands of small decisions. Systems are what we use to govern the decisions that we have already made and to make automatic the rote tasks that support those decisions.

Using this definition of a design system, Hayley was able to translate the power of a design system into a broader context. Not just for products, she argued, systems could be applied to experiences and even to how we deliver on the human rights of those we interact with.

Hayley Hughes (Intersection 2020)

To remain relevant in the future, designers will need to hold themselves accountable for their unconscious values. Hayley Hughes, Intersection 2020

Hayley beautifully brought together the threads of the conference. Her talk inspired me to consider how I apply design to the broadest contexts of my work to add the most social value I am capable of adding. If I cannot do that in a context, maybe it’s time to apply the leaving pattern.

Links I Clicked

  1. Manifesto: Ethical Design Manifesto

Where to Learn More

You can check out Hayley’s website here.

#conferencefieldnotes #design #ethics