Where to Start
Inclusive Design of Digital Products
The role of a product designer is to design products that make people’s lives easier. They have to analyze the personas that are their targets, identify their challenges, and come up with ideas to overcome them.
Accessibility is one of the main features of a website that everyone can access. However, when it comes to the design process itself, the term „inclusive design“ is used to describe the process of designing a product that is available to as many people as possible, including people with disabilities.
Having a disability means that your movements, feelings, and actions are limited in some way. People with disabilities are all around us, and they aren’t all as visible as we think they are. These people could have limited vision or hearing, bad memory, or reduced cognitive abilities.
All these conditions make digital product design a real challenge. Creating an inclusive design makes UX designers think out of the box, determining how everyone can be enabled to complete the fundamental actions a digital product requires. If the product is an informative app, it shouldn’t only have written content. Instead, it should also contain interactive and audio content, videos, etc. Various types of content enable different people to use the app, offering them a better user experience.
Why do you need an inclusive design?
Inclusive design has the goal to cover as many human perspectives as possible. Users can have many different backgrounds, feelings, and experiences. They all affect how they behave in their everyday lives, which means that they also impact the way people use digital products.
This is why we need inclusive design. We want to enable all of them to use our product. To get an inclusive end product, designers should include people with different abilities and experiences during the entire design process. They test the usability of the product, checking its levels of inclusivity.
How do you make design inclusive?
When you’re young and full of energy, you probably don’t think that something like this can happen to you. However, disability doesn’t only mean that the person is in a wheelchair. For example, vision is one of the most common disability conditions. According to the World Health Organization, at least 1 billion people worldwide have a near or distant vision disorder that could or has yet to be treated.
Moreover, disability doesn’t have to be permanent. For instance, using hands-free mode while driving in your car is one way you’re using inclusive design. These small everyday habits make us use inclusive design without even being aware of it.
So, how do you make your digital product available to everyone, regardless of their vision abilities or the stability of their internet connection? Here are some basic things to consider:
The mindset is key
The mindset of the people designing the product is the beginning of every inclusive design. It should be shaped by the company culture, which should support people with various abilities, senses, and backgrounds.
To create a decision-making process that designers can easily follow, try putting together a set of guidelines. They should show team members the direction to go for when it comes to inclusivity. For example, Google has its Material Design Guidelines, while Apple has created the Human Interface Guidelines.
Having a diverse team can be very helpful. When people are working in such an environment, they become more tolerant of different behaviors. What is more, they become more aware of the conditions different people can suffer.
What makes the process even better is to have a team devoted to testing innovations and methods of optimizing service quality. These teams continuously adopt new skills that they can spread across the company.
Start with small features
In the beginning, making your product inclusive might seem too complicated. That’s why you should start by highlighting smaller features that will eventually make up the entire process.
To articulate challenges for different types of consumers, map out every small action in a series of interactions, and modify it to see if you can make them more accessible, using accessibility criteria.
Use high-contrast colors
To make the product easily visible and readable to everyone, always try to use colors with high contrast. Some users might need more contrast than others, so make sure you have this in mind when designing your product. To make your product available to them, you can add an „Increase contrast“ option to your app, letting them choose the level of contrast they want to view.
A good practice is to create a catalog within your design guidelines that show designers what the best high-contrast color combinations are. This will cover both inclusivity and consistency with your brand identity.
Add dark mode
If users can choose the level of contrast they want, they should also be able to determine if they wish to see your app in a dark mode or not. Dark mode has become very popular during the past year, and almost every popular app has it. Since dark mode also has a higher color contrast, it may allow users to better view your content.
Include bold fonts
Add a bold font-weight when selecting a typeface for your app. Even if that won’t be your default design, the user will be able to see bold text when they have Bold fonts allowed. This might mean a lot to people with limited visibility.
Use a minimal number of animations
Animations might look very good on your website. They can have a significant impact on improving the user experience of your digital product. However, this isn’t the case for all users. Some might find it challenging to focus on real actions when too many animations are flying around. That’s why you should consider including a minimal number of animations. To go one step further, you can add an option that turns off animations for those who struggle with them.
The effective design provides a fantastic user experience for everyone who interacts with it. One of the most thorough approaches to achieving that goal is inclusive design.
Designers have the possibility to build digital products that perform best for all individuals, rather than only the groups included in the team. They can do this by leveraging the inclusive design approach to include various experiences, talents, and backgrounds. Not only can the products produced by this project help people with disabilities, but they can also provide positive opportunities for all.
If you have an idea for a digital product, make sure you consider inclusive design. Our team of experts will be happy to help you and provide outstanding consultancy on every development and design topic.