Manifesto for compassionate services

This document outlines a set of guidelines for developers who want to do right. Services and applications abiding by the these rules are compassionate towards their users.

While by no means exhaustive, the list can act as a sane starting point and as a check-list for services new and old.


A compassionate service should:

Each point is described in more detail below.

Guidelines in more detail

Respect the user

The service should be free from dark user interface patterns. A user should not end up making choices that are not in their best interest.

Dark user interface patterns are disrespectful. They are the antithesis of a compassionate service. The dark patterns website has a more thorough explanation of what these are.

A compassionate service does not collect data that are not necessary to run the service. It only uses data in ways the user expects and anticipates. Data should not be shared with third parties.

Be clear, easy to understand and use

It should be easy to understand what a service does. The language used to describe it should be concise, free of technical jargon and written at a level the reader is likely to understand.

A compassionate service is designed to be easy to use. It has an uncluttered interface and surfaces the right information at the right time.

Be forgiving and guard against mistakes

A compassionate service is welcoming to users who have less technical experience. It should be forgiving by guarding against mistakes and allow actions to be undone. It should use standard design elements a user is likely to know and recognize.

Be accessible to impaired users

A compassionate service should be available to users with impairments. Web based services should use semantic HTML that is friendly to screen readers. Installable applications should use the available accessibility features on their platforms.

For more information read the following guide for a good basis for accessibility.

Have a fair and understandable price

Services that charge a fee should have a price that is easy to find and understand. The price should be clear and include all taxes and fees. The service should not try to sell the user features that were not requested.

A compassionate service can have more than one price point. This might be in the form of different tiers or plans. Such a service must include expected and common features in all tiers and plans. It should not force an upgrade to a more expensive plan.

A compassionate service that charges a subscription fee must be easy to unsubscribe from.