3 inclusive design actions leaders can take right now

25 Apr 2019

Image: © baranq/Stock.adobe.com

Forrester’s Gina Bhawalkar offers three effective tips from her latest report on inclusive design that can be implemented immediately.

Inclusive design is good for business. I laid out the reasons why in my latest report, ‘The Inclusive Design Imperative: Win And Retain More Customers’, explaining how you can establish the foundation for it to take hold.

Once you raise awareness of inclusive design and spark the desire in employees to do better, it’s important to arm them with the tools to turn desire into action. To this end, I have outlined how to modernise your design practice for inclusion by incorporating new people, processes and tools.

The great news? Many of the tips I uncovered in my research are things you can put into practice starting now, no new budget required.

1. Ask new questions in your design critiques

Challenge your designers (and yourself) to spot and stop exclusion early. Next time you hold a design critique, ask questions such as:

  • Will a non-native English speaker understand that phrase?
  • Have you checked the colour contrast of that text and background combination?
  • What will this design sound like when ‘read’ by a screen reader?

2. Include multiple perspectives in the design process

A key principle of inclusive design is ‘learn from diversity’. It’s not just about designing for or accommodating marginalised segments such as people with disabilities and ageing adults, it’s about designing with them. This means evolving the composition of your design team so that it reflects your customer base’s diversity.

Before achieving that goal, start by simply expanding who you include in customer research. Next time you run a usability study, for example, make it a point to recruit customers who vary in age, gender, background, ethnicity, ability etc to participate.

3. Annotate wireframes with inclusive design considerations

Next time you hand off designs to your development team, annotate them with guidance on elements such as what the heading structure should be, the order in which UI elements should be read by a screen reader and where focus should move when the user takes an action. Don’t leave your developers guessing.

By Gina Bhawalkar

Gina Bhawalkar is a principal analyst serving customer experience (CX) professionals at Forrester, with more than 15 years’ experience as a UX/CX practitioner and leader. Her research focuses on user experience (UX) and accessibility, particularly how design and UX teams are organised. On 29 April 2019, she will host the webinar, Modernise Your Design Organisation for Scale and Inclusion.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Forrester blog.