What we can learn from Plato about inclusive UX design | by Diana Leon | Nov, 2023


And the excellence or beauty or truth

of every structure, animate or inanimate, and of every action of man is relative to the use for which nature or the artist has intended them.


Then the user of them must have the greatest experience of them and he must indicate to the maker the good or bad qualities which develop themselves in use; for example, the flute player will tell the flute maker which of his flutes is satisfactory to the performer; he will tell him how he ought to make them and the other will attend to his instructions?

Of course

The one knows and therefore speaks with authority about the goodness and the badness

The passage you read above is from the dialogue “Statesman” (also known as “Politikos” ) by Plato. It’s a philosophical work in which Socrates engages in a conversation with the Eleatic Stranger and others, exploring the nature of the statesman and the art of governance. The specific passage is part of a discussion about the relationship between the user and the maker in the context of various skills and crafts.

It baffles me that Good old Plato was talking about “form follows function”, user experience, and usability… 2400 years ago!

Without putting a name on it Plato and in the same time Socrates were talking about user-centered design

User-centered approach

Inclusive design involves putting the user at the center of the design process.

Plato’s idea suggests that the user (flute player) should have the greatest experience and provide feedback, guiding the maker in creating satisfactory products. Inclusive design similarly advocates for understanding and addressing the diverse needs of users from various backgrounds and abilities.

Feedback and iteration

Plato highlights the need for communication between the user and the maker, with the user indicating the qualities that develop in use.


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