This article retraces the round table “What priorities in terms of responsible digital technology?”, organized on September 19, 2023 during the first edition of UX-Conf – Human First. Hosted by Clément Fages, digital journalist, this highlight brought together five speakers:
- Nour Hebiri, UX-Republic
- Renaud Dorizon, ManoMano
- Martin-Auguste Bossut, ManoMano
- Loic Le Pellec, Engie
- Maxime Champoux, Qonto
Responsible digital technology is an approach that aims to improve the'ecological footprint of digital – which represents 3 to 4% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and 2,5% of'national carbon footprint (ARCEP, 2023 study) – but also to fight against the digital divide, ensure data protection and more broadly adopt a societal ethical posture.
Combining sobriety, accessibility and business issues
“At ManoMano, we built the courses empirically. We know from studies that there are 70% non-essential features, or even 45% which are not used” indicated Martin-Auguste Bossut, Sustainability Data Manager at ManoMano. He recommends doing “a little digital slimming treatment” from time to time.
Here is his method: think about what is essential, do A/B Testing, measure, iterate, trying to make simplification roadmaps coexist with business objectives. To achieve this, Martin-Auguste insists on “the duty to raise awareness and share one's convictions, especially with IT, because they too have their own roadmap. Once everyone is aligned, it's much simpler”.
Renaud Dorizon, Head of Design at ManoMano then emphasizes that “integrating eco-design into processes and projects while managing the hypergrowth of a scale-up is complicated” and that it you have to “find the timing”. The creation or redesign of a Design system is a key moment where “eco-design,'accessibility and business issues converge“. When the Design System is deployed on a large scale, it is important to apply the accessibility standards RGAA (general framework for improving accessibility), W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and think about what is essential. this allows you to have a significant impact. Then, by using cleaner code and lighter pages, the site also improves its SEO.
Promoting accessibility and inclusion through the Design System
Qonto, a banking alternative for entrepreneurs and small businesses, created its Design System several years ago. “Today, when we create or'we evolve a component, we use checklists and tools like Stark on Figma, to have control points and ensure that we are on target in terms of accessibility and'inclusion” testifies Maxime Champoux, Head of Product at Qonto.
In his experience, fixing all accessibility issues at once in mode “batch” during a rebranding for example, is not the best option. “On the Product side, there are 150 of us and we do between 25 and 30 features per quarter. If we do not manage to take responsibility for the choices we make, to share knowledge, it will become obsolete quite quickly”.
The establishment of a Design System therefore appears, here again, as a solution, ensuring that the dissemination of standards is accompanied by training.
Beyond the Design System, keyboard navigation, voiceOver, etc., are managed at the development stage to ensure that the interface will be compatible with tools promoting inclusion.
This approach benefits both users and the company, underlined Maxime Champoux. “In terms of accessibility, we directly see the impact on user satisfaction (NPS) but also on the ability to reach a wider audience”.
Think globally and act on your scale
Digital accessibility is also the priority of Nour Hebiri, Senior product designer at UX-Republic which invites us to take care of the interfaces, right down to the animations and micro-interactions.
Speaking more generally about responsible digital technology, Nour Hebiri shared her conviction that “the'impact of future services should be assessed from the scoping stage, systemically. You have to think about the physical and functional aspect, graphic design, content, digital accessibility but also development and hosting”.
Concerning eco-design, she suggests'press tools like'EcoIndex de Green IT and recommends the Mobile First approach which limits the temptation to fill interfaces with superfluous content whose loading will have an environmental impact.
Aware that designers sometimes have difficulty carrying the approach within the company, Nour Hebiri also reminds us that even small actions are beneficial. For example, auto-plays and the use of images with oversized formats and resolutions should be avoided.
Target your actions to maximize impact
Digital Manager within the French Professional Customers Department d’Engie, Loic Le Pellec approached the subject of digital responsibility with humility and pragmatism. “On Green IT, we are, like many, in full questioning: what do we measure and how? What scope (only the front? the back, the servers?) What objectives? At Engie, we do it with sincerity and the desire to be effective to avoid greenwashing”.
At the group level, Engie encourages (financially) its units to extend the life of IT equipment, indicated Loïc Le Pellec, an action whose impact is maximized by the scale of the company.
It also observes that as a supplier of natural gas and within the framework of the scope 3, “the main challenge for its Management is not only to reduce its own carbon footprint but also to help customers reduce theirs”. They therefore offer monitoring of consumption, challenges and a carbon footprint simulator 2, atso many tools based on… digital technology.
Using digital for responsible innovations
Digital can also be used to make the company itself more responsible, as Martin-Auguste Bossut demonstrated by speaking with pride about Carbon score 3.
Less than six months ago, ManoMano implemented the display ofa rating that allows products to be compared on the basis of their carbon footprint. Nearly 700 products have already been rated. He describes this project as very ambitious “d'ultratech“. “ManoMano processes millions of products and we wanted a project that was immediately “at scale”, to have an impact”.
According to Martin-Auguste Bossut, the first challenge was data. “We had to build an efficient data model. We immediately asked ourselves, with our IT manager, how to make this ad-hoc project interesting from a Green IT perspective and if we really needed an update every day, for example.”
The question of accessibility also arose: “We simplify with a grade from A to E. But how do we ensure that our customers adopt this method easily, including those who have difficulty navigating the Internet?” . Martin Auguste Bossut noticed that this project was useful for consumers and was also useful for ManoMano, which thus has real product data for measuring and managing its scope 3.
From user-centered design to data management and eco-design, there are many ways to make digital practices more responsible, including in the face of business constraints. An issue whose consideration is now imperative for companies concerned about the future of our planet and the satisfaction of their users.
Sylvie Austrui, UX Designer – UX-Republic