Principles of Inclusive Design
Developed in 1997 by product designers, architects, environmental enthusiasts, and engineers, inclusive or universal design involves designing products and the environment in a way that is easily accessed, understood, and used in the greatest way possible by everybody regardless of their ability or age. This means that city planners, architects, engineers, and other important industry regulators should include people’s diverse abilities and needs to ensure that product designs meet different needs and abilities.
Inclusivity is among the many UX basics, and designers should make it their core objective. However, achieving this means that several aspects should be taken into consideration. For instance, one person’s perfect environment may be a quiet and secluded bedroom, while another prefers a loud, windy, and crowded environment.
Why Inclusive Design?
Observing an inclusive design is important for various reasons. However, it mostly enhances the user experience for a generally diverse audience. With almost 15% of the world’s population experiencing some form of disability, being empathic to a diverse audience is crucial for an inclusive design. Inclusive designs help create experiences where all users feel that they are not excluded from the general population.
For manufacturers, inclusive designs boost your brand and position it as an industry leader. Adhering to inclusive designs provides equal opportunities and access, which won’t go unnoticed by clients. Interestingly, two-thirds of customers prefer supporting brands with a purpose and are mindful of brands that don’t.
That aside, inclusive design is good for SEO, making it a good way of boosting organic traffic. Search engines generally value user experiences that prioritize inclusiveness in their product design. Therefore, including alt texts and closed captions on your images and videos or descriptive link text will make your page rank better and higher.
Lastly, an inclusive UX design can increase sales by making your products accessible to a diverse audience.
What are the Key Inclusive Design Principles?
Inclusive design principles help designers create products and design experiences that suit a broad group of users. However, this is only possible if designers adopt this mindset from the start. The principles include;
1. Identify Points of Exclusion
Designers should actively identify points of exclusion and convert them into opportunities for generating new, all-inclusive solutions. By understanding how and why people feel excluded by specific designs, they can proactively develop concrete steps towards ensuring inclusivity.
For instance, those with vision challenges are excluded if your website doesn’t have alt captions for web page readers. Therefore, UX designers should include alt texts and other WCAG guidelines for an inclusive design.
2. Identify Specific Situational Challenges
In some situations, exclusion occurs on a situational basis. This differs from the first principle in that situational exclusion occurs when users cannot use products effectively due to specific scenarios. For instance, customers watching a video in a noisy environment may not hear the audio.
Deafening noise can exclude users from using the product. In this situation, the product design didn’t factor in alternative use in such cases. Adding closed captions would have made the product inclusive.
3. Avoid Personal Biases
To avoid unintentional personal bias in your designs, you should work with people from different backgrounds during the design process. To achieve this, reach out to users across the divide during your research and product testing phase. Fortunately, you can make use of various prototyping tools to make this process easy. Remote usability testing, for instance, can help companies reach different demographics and diverse users.
4. Find Different Ways of Engaging
Providing different ways of engagement is another crucial principle of an inclusive design. Offering users with different options allows them to choose one that best suits their specific circumstances. For instance, if part of your audience might be hearing impaired, providing transcription options improves their experience. This can be used concurrently with closed captioning that provides real-time audio translation.
5. Provide Equal Experiences
You should ensure that user experiences for your products are comparable for users who engage with the products or service differently. Remember that just because your products have met the basic accessibility standards doesn’t give users a comparable experience.
For instance, offering transcription options for hearing impaired users makes your products inclusive; you should ensure that the experience remains the same for all hearing-impaired users. Therefore, your transcription options should offer different playback speeds to make everyone comfortable.
That aside, solutions designed to a target group can also benefit a wide audience. For instance, even though transcription options help the deaf, every other person can benefit from these options.
An inclusive design prioritizes and puts people first. Designing inclusive products ensures that it caters to a diverse group in unique environments. Therefore, designers should not only focus on improving UX but also focus on ensuring that their products are inclusive. Inclusive designs also empathize with all users, regardless of their abilities. This also means that a wider population gets to benefit from your products and services.
Content provided by Eleven Fifty Academy