Inclusive design and its power to create meaningful interactions
At Fjord, we have the opportunity to design the world we want to live in – one that propels us forward, one that works with us and for us. We’re passionate about rethinking how things operate, every day. There’s always a better way, and we make it our business to look for it.
Every year, Fjord organizes a series of discussions and workshops that give us access to more than 1,000 brilliant design minds we have spread across our 28 different studios around the world. As a result of this process, Fjord creates a report covering trends that we believe to be relevant to us as a business and as individuals, but also for our clients, friends and families. It’s called The Fjord Trends.
In this year’s report, we highlighted seven trends that we believe will represent new opportunities to both redesign existing interactions and design new ones. Success will depend on providing value that’s relevant not only to individuals, but also to the world.
Organisations must aim for inclusive design that ensures meaningful interactions for all customers that bring tangible long-term value, both to users and to the organization’s bottom line.
“Value creation will not come from simply growing bigger, but by being better. In busy lives and on a crowded planet, only the relevant will remain.”
One of the trends I am particularly passionate about is the Inclusivity Paradox. This identifies how people expect organisations to see them and engage with them, and how they expect this to be done on an individual level.
The organisations that can achieve this are those that truly appreciate the importance of understanding their customers’ mindsets, rather than driving their efforts based only on classical marketing segmentation.
We discuss how the combination of qualitative and quantitative data might be able to generate better insights, help support deeper interpretation of the customer mindset and in doing so bring to light their real needs and motivations. This will enable us to generate meaningful interactions and experiences to drive business differentiation in a crowded, commoditised world.
In my humble opinion, the key takeaway of this trend is that:
“Organisations must aim for inclusive design that ensures meaningful interactions for all customers that bring tangible long-term value, both to users and to the organisation's bottom line.”
As a designer, I believe that when we design our interactions and experiences, we need to take great care to understand the size of the responsibility we bear. We hold the power to define who will be able to participate.
And when we exclude someone from an interaction or experience, we may hurt them on a personal level and risk losing them as a customer forever. So how might we design more inclusive and meaningful interactions?
The answer to that question is far from simple. However, part of the answer lies in the importance of understanding the concepts of an inclusive design mindset, and how to apply it to design meaningful interactions and experiences.
Before explaining what inclusive design is, it’s important to demystify a few myths about it:
- Inclusive design is exclusively for minorities, extreme users or for those with a disability. Inclusive design is about understanding and embracing the differences between people, their mindsets, needs and motivation and applying this understanding as part of the design process
- You mean accessibility, right? No, accessibility is commonly misunderstood as being the same as inclusive design. However, accessibility comes from the qualities that make an experience open to all – it provides minimum ways to allow everyone to use your product/service (e.g. colour contrast). In contrast, inclusive design is a methodology that enables and draws on the full range of human diversity
- It’s nice to be inclusive. Inclusive design is not about being nice; it’s about being smart. When you apply the inclusive mindset during your design process, you are able to generate more meaningful interactions and experiences and therefore extend them to a larger number of customers, with a more diverse range of needs. This generates differentiation and innovation
What inclusive design definitely doesn’t mean is designing one thing for all potential customers. The inclusive design mindset is about designing a variety of ways that allow a diverse range of customers to participate in interactions or services. And it’s based on three key principles:
- Recognise exclusion: It happens when we try to create experiences based only on our own biases. Designers are quite good at doing that, they call their biases ‘assumptions’
- Learn from diversity: Diversity is something that changes over time. We, as humans, have an amazing power to adapt to different situations. However, it’s important to understand why people need to adapt to our interactions and services, instead of the other way around
- Solve for one and extend to many: Focus on what is important to the customer mindset you are designing for and their ‘sense of belonging’. When the solutions are ready to be tested, you can identify the opportunities to extend those interactions/experiences to others
Applying the three basic principles of inclusive design enables you to understand user mindsets and, as a result, you can create more meaningful interactions and experiences and drive innovation to other customers you haven’t initially considered.
“It is important to understand that inclusivity is both an opportunity and a challenge for a diverse range of organisations, from national governments to start-ups.”
The organisations that understand the importance of adopting the inclusive design mindset in their design process may gain more than just a few extreme customers.
I hope you can join me at Build IT Right, where I will share more details about the inclusive design mindset and how important it is in generating more meaningful interactions and experiences.
Bruno Perez is the service design lead for Fjord, Design and Innovation from Accenture Interactive
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