Repairing the Harm of Digital Design Using a Trauma-informed Approach

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Melissa Eggleston
Lesley-Ann Noel


With increased awareness and mindful decisions, digital designers can repair the harm caused by digital design and improve the online experience of individuals who have been previously marginalized. This repair of poor design decisions, well-intentioned or out of ignorance, is necessary in a world where technology, exclusion, and trauma are pervasive. This article provides examples of digital harm that designers must acknowledge, understand, and avoid recreating. The concept of trauma-informed design is explained along with two practical approaches for designers to use to become more trauma-informed, and repair harm when creating websites, apps, and other digital experiences.


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How to Cite
Eggleston, M., & Noel, L.-A. (2024). Repairing the Harm of Digital Design Using a Trauma-informed Approach. Diseña, (24), Article.7.
Original articles
Author Biographies

Melissa Eggleston, North Carolina State University

Adjunct Professor of Design, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She holds a Master’s degree in Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is pursuing her doctoral studies at the College of Design at North Carolina State University, studying the intersection of trauma and technology. She is a user experience designer and researcher with 15 years of experience in the technology industry, currently working for the Digital Service at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the United States. She won the 2017 Aquent Design for Good grant to apply trauma-informed principles to a domestic violence agency website. Since then, she has designed for people who have experienced interpersonal violence, human trafficking, substance use, post-traumatic stress disorder, and serious mental illness.

Lesley-Ann Noel, North Carolina State University

Assistant Professor of the College of Design at North Carolina State University. After being trained as an Industrial Designer at the Universidade Federal do Paraná, she earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of the West Indies and a PhD in Design from North Carolina State University. She is co-chair of the Pluriversal Design Special Interest Group from the Design Research Society, and served as guest editor of Diseña (with F. M.C. van Amstel and R. F. Gonzatto; Issues 21 and 22: ‘Design, Oppression, and Liberation’). Author of Design Social Change (Ten Speed Press, 2023) and one of the co-editors of The Black Experience in Design (with A. H. Berry, K. Walters, J. Rittner, P. Laker, and K. Collie; Allworth, 2022), she has created several design tools for critical reflection, such as ‘The Designer’s Critical Alphabet’ and the ‘Positionality Wheel’. Some of her latest publications include ‘An Emancipatory Research Primer for Designers’ (in The Routledge Companion to Design Research; Routledge, 2023) and ‘Pluriversal Futures for Design Education’ (co-authored with A. Ruiz, F. M.C. van Amstel, V. Udoewa, N. Verma, N. Kommey Botchway, A. Lodaya, and S. Agrawal; She Ji, Vol. 9, Issue 2).


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