October 31, 2023

We Now Organize Designs by their Civic Signal

If you've browsed our Library, you might've noticed that our filters changed...

, & al.
If you've browsed our Library, you might've noticed that our filters changed...

If you work in tech and have browsed our Prosocial Design Library, you may have filtered by the prosocial goal you want to achieve ("I want to…"). And you may have just noticed those goals got switched up. 

That's because we swapped them out to use New_ Public's "Civic Signals," the best approximation we know of for what users' goals are. If you're like us, you may have had  conversations that started "we know what an unhealthy internet looks like, but what should our goals be in building healthy digital spaces?" New_ Public answered that question by going out and asking users - thousands of them across twenty countries - what they want when they go to a social media platform. That research resulted in four pillars and fourteen "civic signals" that go into creating an environment where users are Welcome and can Connect, Understand and Act. (You can see the full fourteen and dive into their research here.) 

Aside from better aligning with the goals of users, there were at least two other reasons for adopting New_ Public's Civic Signals:

  • Our old filters grouped design features based on what designs currently rather than should exist. By using the Civic Signals, we hope that product managers and researchers alike will take note of where more features need to be created and tested to support users' goals.
  • By using New_ Public's Civic Signals, we also hope to help converge the field around a common language and framework. Countless organizations and academic labs are working to improve prosocial outcomes in technology, but it makes it harder to share information and sync efforts when we use different concepts and terms. By aligning on a shared framework, our collective knowledge can be more interoperable and adoptable.

All that said, it is possible we will discover prosocial design features that will not fit neatly in its structure. As with everything else on PDN and in the field, this is a work in progress; we look forward to evolving - along with the field and PDN members.

About the Prosocial Design Network

The Prosocial Design Network researches and promotes prosocial design: evidence-based design practices that bring out the best in human nature online. Learn more at

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