Imagine creating a perfect design with pretty visuals and classic features with your peers patting you on the back. Perhaps, it is possible that your perfect design may be imperfect for people of some distinct society. Yes, you may be thinking, “cut me a slack!”, we cannot always impress everyone. While that can be true, as a designer, you should know that it’s not always about impressing people. You need to twist the situation to watch it from diverse angles and perspectives.
Along with being accessible, design should also be relatable to all kinds of people. As diversity is an inevitable truth of humankind, embracing this truth is a crucial responsibility for UX designers. Here, the prominence of inclusive design enters the spotlight! Inclusive design is not a new concept or a new addition to the rules of UX design. An open and inclusive design has been and should be an integral part of designing.
As interaction with the digital world has become a necessity for all sorts of people, UX designs must hold empathy for various individual peculiarities. Designers need to consider that their definition of “perfect” or “normal” may not fit for those different from them in terms of background, identity, experiences, or more. With this said, let us break down what really inclusive design is!
What is Inclusive design?
After years of oppression of several groups of people, the social awakening with movements like ‘Black lives matter’ has finally made it imperative to satisfy diverse human needs and expectations. Inclusive design implies a UX design that physically, emotionally, and rationally satisfies all kinds of people under the range of the target audience. It excludes unwanted situations such as denying access to some, demeaning their identities, or exposing sensitive information. With being accessible for everyone, an inclusive design is not ‘one size fits all,’ but something in harmony with the expectations of different individuals with different experiences. Here is a cool thought from Microsoft that sums up inclusive design coherently-
“Inclusive Design is a methodology, born out of digital environments, that enables and draws on the full range of human diversity. Most importantly, this means including and learning from people with a range of perspectives.”
Why Inclusive Design?
As a UXer, you have the power to influence and direct your audience. It means you have the ability to make design decisions that may allow people to overcome several barriers. That’s why many designers step into the shoes of users to crack these problems. While it may help to some extent, this approach eventually leads to a feasible design for people with the same abilities as the designers, with the same preferences, age group, life choices, and more. An inclusive design eliminates these ability standards. It saves the designers from unknowingly excluding people with different peculiarities than them.
A person’s manner of interacting with the digital world largely depends upon their ability to see, hear, sense, and understand. For example, a high school kid may use an app to seek help for assignments, while an older person may use it because its interface is highly user-friendly with an easily visible font. So, we can settle that the responsibility to include variant limited abilities and empower every type of user befalls UX designers.
Designers need to embrace the beauty of diversity and differential abilities by designing meaningful and functional designs with empathy and care for all.
Inclusive Design Principles
As per the definition of Inclusive designs by Microsoft, we can carve out some foundational principles of inclusive design:
Exclusion Exists. And, you need to acknowledge it.
First things first, exclusion exists because humankind is diverse. Creating designs subject to your perceptions and experiences gives rise to this exclusion. Hence, first of all, you need to stop, look, and recognize this exclusion. Then, investigate and navigate your users belonging to different backgrounds and cultures. Understand that people have different limitations and impairments that you have to consider and respect during designing as a creative professional.
Surprisingly, diversity can provide you with a sneak peek of design inspiration and usability optimization. The exclusive solutions you produce for people with disabilities may become hit and pleasant experiences for people beyond this specific group. The more predictive a designer is to these evidential hindrances of overlooked people, the more efficient the design becomes. The control of technology over people will eventually reduce, and the reverse will harness growth and ease for all.
Stretch the reach
Do not fancy your design solutions unless they are open for all. Yes, at times, you may have to create for specific groups. But, if you can generalize these particular design solutions, it may optimize the overall design experience you create with much care. Thus, when you embrace the beauty of imperfections and disabilities, you may end up exploring the best design solutions that minimize the barriers of these disabilities and boost your UX.
An inclusive design cherishes the power of diversity, differences, and disabilities. It may also land designers with an optimized UX with outstanding design solutions that may solve problems for the entire user audience facing different limitations.
Inclusive design is essential and impactful for UX. Your designs can immensely impact lives and cultures beyond your imagination. So, why not leave positive and shining imprints on people from all walks of life? Make more room for inclusion and take advantage of the strength of inclusive design to enhance your design process and create efficient design solutions. Inclusive designs will lead the way for a comprehensive and sustainable future for not ‘some’ but all types of users.