The Importance of Inclusive Design

Designing inclusively is an important and effective approach that we use to improve experiences for users of any background, identity, or experience.

Within the tech industry, a growing number of UX professionals like Pocket App are driven to create and produce products that are truly inclusive for a wide range of users.

The moment users feel excluded from the journey, whether that is during registration, through a purchasing process or using the search interface, they are likely to abandon it altogether.

An inclusive approach is integral to the early stages of our discovery & design process to collaboratively consider all variances for the users of the potential platform. This is then carried through to the additional phases throughout the project lifespan.

So, what is the definition of inclusive design and why is it important?

To provide a brief explanation, users who are part of oppressed groups or minorities may experience exclusion in many aspects of their daily lives and by addressing the needs of these users through inclusive design minimises the occurrence of this happening.

As UX professionals we have the opportunity to mould the structure and influence the direction of any project. This control provides the ability to have a powerful impact with inclusive design which in turn, is beneficial to a vast number of potential users.

Not only is this a responsibility of the UX team members at Pocket App, but this also carries through to our various other teams as part of the project process i.e our project managers, software developers and beyond. The decisions being made by the team during a project lifespan greatly impact the platforms that we deliver and therefore it is important for everyone to understand what inclusive design is and why it matters.

Two fundamental components for inclusive design

1.    The team

2.    Real life user testing

Instead of composing a team of a similar background in terms of how they identify, behave and look, we gather people with different cultural backgrounds, varying abilities, and different gender identities that helps us to recognise & overcome our biases. Having a diverse team helps contribute to assessing the needs for a broader range of people when designing a platform and will make the end users feel more inclusive when engaging with the digital product.

Conducting user testing is extremely beneficial in order to gather feedback from a wide range of people. Involving the user groups that may face exclusion provides the opportunity to cover as many aspects as possible, ensuring that the designed product delivers value to all people and provides a positive journey for all user types & communities.
For this reason, we very much encourage that thorough user testing is conducted by our clients and the potential end users prior to launch of the platform to address anything that may require further consideration and adaptation.

A couple examples of our inclusive design best practices

Inclusive imagery

This requires a collaborative approach between UX and UI designers working to diversify the full spectrum of users when designing a platform.

Being mindful of representing different identities within a community using imagery, icons, illustrations, and photographs is essential to helping more people feel included in the user journey. This creates a positive environment for people and will increase engagement of the product or platform.

Inclusive Language

Words can be extremely impactful, even more so than imagery. By using language that applies to a broad group of people shows an inclusive approach to the copy we produce.

Using complex language, acronyms, infrequently used terms adds a layer of difficulty for people with cognitive disabilities to understand and grasp the platform interface. Using simple language and short sentences will make the  information more accessible for all users.

People consume content everyday which is why we need to be thoughtful of the words that are selected and how they can be conveyed.
Words are used to communicate & express and by constructing more inclusive copy, we can leave a powerful influence on the users who absorb your content.

A specific use case is the collection of user data on forms.

When filling out personal forms, certain data fields spring to mind i.e name, age, gender, race etc. When designing a form builder, there are elements that can often be overlooked in terms of ensuring that it is inclusive for everyone.

However, questions that we at Pocket App would ask when creating these forms are, why are we requesting this information and is it necessary or going to add value for the user experience?
If there is a good reason to ask the question, then a further consideration is how to approach the question and what responses need to be available for the users to select from.
We have to be mindful of the options we make available for users to select and make sure they are in keeping with the information the platform is actually asking for.

As well as the above, providing users with an explanation as to why certain information is required may also help the users to understand how / why the data will be used and make them feel more comfortable sharing it.

In Summary

Inclusive design can have an impact for many different people and is therefore an important skill that our UX professionals possess.

The more attention that is given to this process, the more visibility it will gain from other designers and more importantly to users, thus providing a positive influence to the culture around us and increasing engagement of products / platforms.