The Principles Of Inclusive Design

Inclusive design refers to the process of making design work available for as many people as possible. Because it is constantly evolving alongside technology and individual learnings, we use the term “process”. Any quality product or service is built on a humanistic, empathetic, inclusive design.

It’s also a common practice for many businesses, such as Microsoft or IBM. Brands that don’t adopt these principles run the risk of falling behind their competition. We’ll walk you through inclusive design and how to promote it in your creative process.

What is inclusive design?

Inclusive design refers to the continuous process of finding solutions that accommodate people’s perspectives, experiences, and circumstances. It is closely related to its opposite, exclusion. Inclusive design focuses mainly on eliminating exclusion points. Although the term “inclusivity” may sound like a political buzzword it is actually a simple idea. It’s about trying to include people who are not included. Let’s look at the various factors that could lead to someone being excluded or included. These factors can be either physical or emotional, temporary or permanent, situational, or non-situational. Non-situational factors, which can be physical, permanent and not situational, might include race, gender mobility, age, and gender. Emotional, temporary, or situational factors might include someone who uses a design after a stressful day. Each of these factors can influence how they perceive a design.

This is inclusive design. It addresses these issues by using stock images that have racially diverse subjects and designing considerations for those who use a mobile phone as a desktop. Often, accommodating for one exclusion can have an effect on the other. Captions on videos can be helpful for the hearing impaired as well as those who are able to hear the video even in noisy environments. Microsoft says: “Designing inclusively does not mean that you make one thing for everyone.” It’s about creating a variety of experiences that allow everyone to feel connected. Finally, I have highlighted several times that inclusive design can be described as a process. This is the key to understanding inclusive design.

It is a verb, a continual act of doing. It is not a final result that you can look back at and say “We did it!” Maximum inclusion has been achieved! You can say inclusive design has been practiced by moving users from one outgroup to another. However, there will always be excluded people. It’s not over. It is both a design approach with concrete steps and a mindset you bring to your job every day. This requires imagination, learning, and empathy. Inclusion design can be difficult to understand because the concepts it refers to can be so vast. For more information, I highly recommend the interview “What you’re getting wrong about inclusive design” with Kat Holmes. Kat Holmes is the original proponent of inclusive design at Microsoft.  Accessible design (and accessibility generally) tends be a part of inclusive design. Both work towards the same goal of making designs that are accessible to a diverse range people.

By Carol Studio

Accessibility is however a word that includes the word “access” and it gives a hint to the main difference: It describes whether there are literal barriers that stop someone experiencing something. Examples of common examples include a set or stairs that prevent wheelchair access, or a website with too small text to read. The question of accessibility is often centered on particular disabilities. Inclusive design, however, is concerned with recognizing and correcting all exclusions. This may require making the design more accessible for the handicapped. Sometimes, it’s about making users feel welcomed even if it wasn’t obvious.

Inclusive design vs. universal design

Universal design is a term that has been developed from both the industrial and architectural design worlds. It is a term that describes a product, a physical thing that cannot be changed, and a judgment of its suitability for broader audiences. As mentioned, inclusive design is about a continuous process. This is often used in digital design but can be applied to any type of design. An inclusive design approach can result in a universal design.

The inclusive design process

It is difficult to design inclusively. Because the goal of inclusive design is to include people who were previously excluded, it all depends on your audience, product and history of your Marketing Strategy. The following tips will help you to identify inclusive actions that work for you.

Inclusion should be a priority from the beginning of the design process

Because inclusive design is a mindset, it should not be something you switch on and off. It should always be there with you from beginning to end. This is why inclusive design should not be treated as an afterthought. This can result in rushed and shallow results. It is better to think about inclusivity as part of your initial design ideas. This is more practical because it’s easier to make changes to a project if the design is already semi-complete than when it was in the beginning. This is not to suggest that you cannot make your design inclusive once it’s been implemented. However, it might be more difficult. It’s better to be late than never, as they say. Be aware that inclusive design is more than a checklist. It’s a way of thinking.

Identify your assumptions about the audience

Market research is a common way for brands to identify their target audience. This is ostensibly your ingroup, or the group of people your design is intended to reach. This information can be prone to error. Target audience research is based both on projections and data. However, it can help you understand what assumptions you already have about your audience. These assumptions are the first step in questioning them. Next, identify audience segments you may be overlooking. This requires you to overcome your unconscious biases. Let’s look at that next section.

Look for perspectives that are not yours

Inclusion design’s purpose is to allow for other perspectives and experiences. Inclusion design is not something that any individual designer can undertake on their own. It is a collaborative endeavor that requires learning from others. Also, broadening your perspective is key. You might do this by listening to customer reviews and including diverse staff members to help you design a product. Be aware of your competitors’ efforts to include and exclude. For insight into the strategies and challenges faced by industry thought leaders, read the writings.


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