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No Tobacco Day—the passive smoking in our digital products

They smoke while designing it and the interface retains the traces of that smoke.

Since the year 1988, the World No Tobacco Day is celebrated on 31 May every year (source: WHO). I saw the tobacco affects very closely at home when my dad succumbed to lung cancer in 2011 because he smoked for 30 years. In the same year, I wrote a series of memoirs for him on my old website. Here are a few episodes from the series—A Burger or a Missing Hand, Try room? Or stage?, The CEO Key, and The Periodic Table.

You do not need to buy the paid version if you want to read all the memoirs. Tweet to me and I will DM you the free copy.

Living with him when he was smoking meant that we were often exposed to the smoke. Unaware. Just like the users of our digital products.

Because this is exactly what they experience in the work that we engineer and design and ship. For example I knew that someone was smoking when I saw this message.

An example of poorly designed product, shared by Vinish Garg

Products smell of the same smoke. More cigars (funded?) or cigarettes (bootstrapped?) examples are available in my tweets, for example one, two, three, and more.

They smoke while designing it and the interface retains the traces of that smoke.

The cigarette makes new heroes in the leadership roles but we see that the actors when they are on screen are different from what they are in the real life. Smoke does not make heroes although it adds to the melodrama. We do not need smoke at this cost. Modern technology gives us many favorable and positive options to add the validated drama, curiosity, and joy in the digital work, without introducing any passive smoking.

All cigarette packets have a written caution on the packet itself that smoking is injurious to our health. What if the digital products’ onboarding steps could also caution the users on the possible hazards of the passive smoking in the UX, design, onboarding, message, and in the experience itself.

Meanwhile, 31 May is a good day to raise funds. To smoke or to quit smoking—the choice is ours.

Vinish Garg

Vinish Garg

I am Vinish Garg, and I work with growing product teams for their product strategy, product vision, product positioning, product onboarding and UX, and product growth. I work on products for UX and design leadership roles, product content strategy and content design, and for the brand narrative strategy. I offer training via my advanced courses for content strategists, content designers, UX Writers, content-driven UX designers, and for content and design practitioners who want to explore product and system thinking.

Interested to stay informed about my work, talks, writings, programs, or projects? See a few examples of my past newsletters—All things products, Food for designInviting for 8Knorks. You can subscribe to my emails here.

Vinish Garg is an independent consultant in product content strategy, content design leadership, and product management for growing product teams.