It can be said that inclusive design is about including many different perspectives. This means that sometimes the answer to one task should be designed in several ways of execution so that users with special needs can cope with the application or website.
When you design an inclusive application, you don’t focus on making sure that only people with certain disabilities benefit from functional solutions, but all users in general, and it’s good to underline this subtle difference. After all, everyone’s conditions change very dynamically. To better understand the point of inclusive design, Microsoft gave some examples that distinguish user limitations into permanent, temporary, and situational. If we design an application that can be easily used with one hand, we make life easier not only for a person with a disability that has one hand but also for a person with a temporary hand injury or a parent who holds a child with one hand. In the same way, an app that can be used by the hearing impaired will work well for users with an ear infection or who are in noisy environments (Microsoft gives the example of a bartender). The point is that everyone will receive the benefit of inclusive solutions, which promote social inclusion and eliminates stiff barriers.
Why is inclusivity important?
Microsoft very accurately notes that disability is not a personal health condition, but only poorly matched interactions between people. In the current world, being close to the online world equals the same as being close to all other aspects of life, so UX designers should take inclusivity very much to heart, to be able to offer one technology, to a variety of people.
Such efforts offer a chance to remove social boundaries by providing everyone with a sense of belonging. Currently, designers often look for one quick way to accomplish a task, when in fact there should be many more.
How to design inclusively?
Such design requires a great deal of empathy and a deep understanding of the world’s diversity, which is why the most diverse team possible should be selected to create an inclusive application, as it requires a shift in thinking far beyond the idealized user.
There are 7 common tips that will help in changing your way of thinking when designing:
- Take care of different user requirements – that is, make sure that no matter who the app’s users are, they can use it similarly and for a similar effect.
- Consider the situation – some functionality is more likely to work well during specific usage conditions. An example is Siri, which not everyone uses on a daily basis, however, it may work well when you are driving, for example.
- Design consistently – make sure the language is understandable and clearly describes what needs to be done. Allow users to find functionality where they expect it.
- Give control – the user, not you, should control the situation and decide what happens. Blocking the ability to, for example, zoom in and out of the screen or stop and skip animations is probably not a good idea.
- Offer choices – alternatives are important, and making them available, creates mature and responsibly designed solutions. If you’re uploading content to your site, think about the alternative text for people who have vision problems, as well as subtitles in videos for people who may have hearing problems (or, for example, forgot their headphones and want to watch the material while sitting in the train).
- Set priorities – this means that users should have no doubts about the purpose of the app.
- Extend apps for the benefit of the user – these are usually small features that are very pleasing. An example is the ability to preview your password as you type, which means you don’t have to get annoyed because you messed up a letter a third time.
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Does inclusive design bring business benefits?
The answer is – yes. The inclusive design of applications and websites has many business benefits because it helps increase the visibility of sites and reduces the cost of maintenance. Actions such as including semantic structure, such as H1, and H2, as well as adding alternative text for images increase search engine optimization enormously. What’s more, inclusive design empowers brands and market leaders because the number of users who are willing to use digital products is growing. According to the World Health Organization, there are nearly one billion people in the world with various types of disabilities, which is about 15% of the human population. It is easy to conclude that by creating inclusive digital products, we are reaching a much larger audience.
Technology that brings people together
The primary reason we should create inclusive mobile and web apps is that it’s the right thing to do and benefits us all. The best UX practices are those that are created with diverse users in mind. Of course, at Applover we realize that there is no golden method on how to create a product that fits everyone’s needs, but with practice and empathy, we can improve digital products and achieve great results. The truth is that the use of technology should be free for everyone, and that is what we should all try to achieve.