UX Design

How to Design User Experience for Diversity & Inclusion

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The goal of inclusive design

It’s an enormous challenge for organizations to redesign their structures, policies and practices to become more inclusive. But, doing difficult things is the only way we can improve everything that’s not right in the world today- be it discrimination or biases or anything else.

For companies to build products and services that matter to their ideal clients across all colors, races, religions, and ethnicities, they must first get diversity and inclusion right on the inside.

The goal of inclusive design is to help companies set the foundation for inclusive products and services. There is a strong ethical responsibility for every one of us to create work that reflects the world around us.

Besides helping fulfill an ethical responsibility, building for diversity and inclusion is healthy and profitable for businesses. Before we look into that, let’s first lay down a few steps for you to design for D&I.

How to achieve diversity and inclusion in UX

The design of your UX design team

Talk about introverts or visually challenged folks or women- organizations have a way of justifying why they don’t have enough representation, especially in leadership positions. They say it was hard to find candidates. This is where the issue stems.

Your UX design team can’t design for a diverse market without in itself being diverse and inclusive. It would have been convenient if that were possible, but that’s the whole problem, right?

Inclusive design warrants you to include members of marginalized communities in the designing process. Having a diverse set of minds and talent working on a problem will open the discussion to whole new perspectives and experiences.

A diverse design team will take all those experiences to design UX that speaks to your target market across all boundaries. Include people from that community and allies to sidestep a narrow and subjective perception of reality within the designing teams.

Allies are essential when hiring or adding people to a diverse team because what good is onboarding a diverse set of people in a hostile environment without support?

Question assumptions early on in the design process

Think about inclusion at every stage of the designing process. For instance, even the problem-defining phase has ample opportunity for a diverse set of opinions and experiences. When companies define the problem that their target users have, they are nailing down their focus points for the future.

Take time to step outside the usual rhythm of this process and question assumptions and hypotheses early on. Ask yourself and your team why you follow a specific approach to define the problem statement and build awareness around the assumptions you’re making.

This is when you can zoom out and soak in the big picture with a diverse set of perspectives before zooming in on a particular problem statement that captures the essence of your product’s experience and what it means for your customers across the board.

Question assumptions to make sure you’re solving the right problem.

Follow inclusive design principles

Product and experience designing principles can guide your design team at all stages of decision-making. Inclusive design principles can impact the quality of design and ensure that the end goal of an inclusive experience is achieved.

Here are a few inclusive design principles to take inspiration –

  • Flexibility – Offer options. Consider when, how, where and why people will use your product. Ensure there are enough choices for diverse users.
  • Straightforward – Make sure you use a minimalistic design so that every feature adds value and does not overwhelm the overall user experience.
  • Perceptible – Ensure that your product’s content, structure and flow are clear and meaningful. Convey information for all senses and don’t leave room for assumptions.
  • Informative – Capture the ‘why’ of the product through a timely, simplistic and predictable experience.
  • Effortless – Don’t restrict users or place expectations on them to think hard or figure out where something appears on your app or website.

Diversify user research

Intentionally onboard diverse research participants so as not to miss out on unique perspectives that often get overlooked. Exclusively research the specific needs and outlooks of people of particular sexuality, race and gender.

Lay down an inclusive user interviewing process by ignoring your interview guide, being respectful and understanding of your participants and taking appropriate measures to make it smooth and worthwhile for everyone involved.

You can also use wide-scale surveys to gather insight from diverse groups at scale. 

The business case for diversity

When startups look at scaling, they often forget the ethical and straightforward option of doing so- by building or modifying for diversity and inclusion. If you want more people to adopt your product, understand and accommodate their behavioral patterns, motivations and reservations in the designing process.

Not only that, building a diverse and inclusive culture has a direct impact on the bottom line and profits a company generates. McKinsey’s research found that the greater the representation of diverse people, the higher is the profitability of companies.

The 2019 analysis found that companies with higher gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have more than average profitability than others.

Moreover, companies with over 30% of women executives were more likely to outperform those with lesser female representation in executive positions.

The list goes on and on – only to prove that building solutions and culture for diversity and inclusion isn’t just the right thing but also the more profitable thing to do.

If you’d like to create an inclusive and meaningful UX, talk to our user experience design services team today!


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