Inclusive design — a simple guide to learners

“People ignore design that ignores people”

~ Frank Chimero, Designer

Towards the fag end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, the world saw what impact technology could have if it is inclusive and touches almost every part of their daily lifestyle.

Inclusive design — a simple guide to learners

Over the past two decades of the 21st century, businesses worldwide experienced that every individual customer is different. Thus, as we enter yet another decade with a view of technological expansion, inclusive design is the focus more than ever. As the importance of inclusive design increases, the top UI/UX professionals will be drawn to develop genuinely inclusive products.

What is inclusive design?

What is inclusive design?

Inclusive design is a fundamental design methodology that emphasizes the fact of authentically engaging diverse people who are an essential constituent of the market that companies cater to. The Inclusive design is born out of a digital environment that draws on an entire range of human diversity. The sole focus of the inclusive design is to include as many people as possible. The diversity of the people had covered variations in their aspirations, needs, and capabilities.

The importance of inclusive design can be analyzed because it is one of the most influential and impactful methods to add depth and layers to the design work. We’ll understand more about it in detail.

Importance of Inclusive design

Apart from being essential for social equality reasons, inclusive design has all the ingredients to make good business sense. By applying an inclusive approach to design, you, as a beginner, will find it easier to seize significant growth opportunities at a very early stage. It will happen as new services and products can be easily accessible through an inclusive approach to your target audience segments.

The benefits of inclusive design are immense for beginners. It allows everyone in the organization to contribute to the product’s final design, be it the UX designers, project managers, software developers, the quality analysts’ team, and even the talent acquisition team. This is why it becomes crucial for young tech professionals to understand the complexity and scope of inclusive design.

Other than inclusive design, a universal design focuses on extending inclusion and access for services and products. Let us see what universal design means and its difference from inclusive design.

What is universal design?

What is universal design?

Universal Design is a design method based on various design principles like accessibility, flexibility, simple to use, tolerances for error, etc. The universal design focuses on making services and products used to the maximum number of targeted audiences.

Rather than building inclusive designs to accommodate the needs of different people, in universal design, designers work with a philosophy of creating a single design solution to reach a maximum number of people.

Difference between Universal Design and Inclusive Design

The significant differences between universal design and inclusive design are as follows:

  • Inclusive design for websites and mobile apps majorly focuses on finding new ways to serve a gamut of people in the diverse market. It provides solutions according to the people’s tastes and needs rather than following the ‘one size fits all’ notion. On the other hand, the universal design offers the broadest range possible for the users. Generally, the universal design doesn’t support the less commonly encountered use cases (edge cases). Instead, it provides a single solution without added accommodations for the users.
  • The UX designers can apply the universal design only to architecture and places that have recently been applied to products. On the contrary, the inclusive design can be applied to services and systems and the aforementioned areas.
  • The new design trend of the inclusive design reflects on how people are. Here, the UI/UX designers understand that humans adapt to the world around them and want to see them in the designs. With universal design, this level of personalization is not possible.

Best Practices in Inclusive Design

The primary focal point on which inclusive design is developed is that it embraces accessibility and ensures that the users are not excluded because of their gender identity, background, race, etc. Below are some of the best practices to help beginners embrace this new design trend and design more inclusively.

Abstracting

Abstracting is one of the great ways to ensure the users are not excluded. Abstracting can be achieved by implementing more human-like but conceptual illustrations in the design. You can use objects or even animals to make no implications on the user’s background or abilities. For example, Lemonade, a house rent/sell website, uses toothbrushes as a sign of defining the number of people living in a family whenever a new user signs up for their services.

Writing Inclusive copies

Along with providing an apt pictorial representation of your products or your potential users, it is necessary to have an inclusive copy that is easy to understand and works for everyone. Try and include short and straightforward sentences, which makes the information easy to understand for the users. Long sentences and complicated forms will make it difficult for people who are not thorough with the language or have other cognitive disabilities.

Moreover, beginners in UI/UX designing should understand that push notifications are a critical space for communication as they speak directly with the users in a crisp manner. For example, the dating app Bumble has a different way of notifying the user that they have a match. When a user gets a match, it notifies the user as ‘you have a new bee in your hive.’ This notification is crisp & sweet, and pleasantly different from the other dating apps.

Using voice interfaces

Culture has a significant impact on everything included in the UX of a mobile app or a website. Moreover, business organizations must keep a keen eye on the human elements like the voice assistant’s accent while developing the device. Although it is challenging to escape the triggers accent can cause, the beginners can choose whether they want to include the stereotypes. The beginners can take inspiration from Google’s voice assistant in this as the voice assistants names the various voice options on colors instead of sex or nationality.

The most crucial elements of inclusive design

After understanding the best practices, the new UI/UX designers should know the crucial elements needed to build inclusive designs.

Assembling the right team

Whether we admit it or not, but humans are biased by nature. Each of our decisions is based on some prior experiences or some thoughts that are pushed upon us. Therefore, while selecting a design team for your project requirement, make sure to include representatives from different cultures based on their skills and experience. If your product is made by people belonging to different cultures, it will be more powerful and appealing than the other products developed by your peers.

Therefore, try and assemble a diverse team for creating inclusive designs for websites and mobile apps, and expand your business by leaps and bounds.

Including the users

Creative Designs that are made by UI/UX professionals keeping the users in focus work wonders in the market. Moreover, contacting the users becomes even more necessary while creating the inclusive design as it is impossible to know the likes of all user groups beforehand. Accessibility and design experts worldwide also feel that organizations should always look to design with the excluded communities rather than for them if they wish to give an inclusive experience to everyone.

Final words

Design principles are rules that provide references and state intentions and help design individuals make better decisions. Microsoft is a classic example of an organization that works skillfully in working according to inclusive design principles. The Microsoft inclusive designs are based on their toolkit, including detailed instructions and extensive resources to give a paradigm shift to your design work.

Whatever you wish to build as a budding designer, you must understand that it has the potential of affecting lives on a large scale. Inclusive design is already in the spotlight, and the more intention you will place in inclusive design, the more you will make your products used for a more comprehensive section of the audience.

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