Why Inclusive Design Matters

Here's why investing in Inclusive Design pays off in the long run (psst.. it's not only good for your users, it's great for business too!)

Gordon Chen

The Value of Inclusive Design

Designing for inclusivity ensures a diverse user base gets to use your product in all sorts of environments and circumstances. It’s not just about “being nice” to often excluded groups. Now more than ever, the digital space is a core part of our personal and work lives. While many of us go about using it seamlessly every day, people with disabilities and disadvantaged groups have many barriers to digital accessibility we’re not wholly aware of.

That aside, here are some other reasons to adopt inclusive design as well.

Reason 1: It’s Great for Business

Research done by PwC Australia in 2019 has shown that up to 4 times the intended audience will benefit from inclusive design. Expanding demand for your product or service can spell greater revenue for your company as more people are eager to be your users. On top of that, you’ll stand a greater chance to benefit from increased referrals and word-of-mouth promotion. When your product or service is inclusive and easy to use, it’s a matter of time before new customers come around.

Reason 2: It Builds Empathy and Team Morale

When your team incorporates inclusive design, you’ll likely interact with and involve others in your design process, like what the Singpass team did. Engaging people from all walks of life provides you with a broader perspective; this helps you empathise and learn from marginalised communities as you work on the design. Also, while developing a product they can use, your team might find greater purpose and job satisfaction. This has been shown to boost motivation and productivity; a win for both your team and the business!

Reason 3: Making a Positive Impact

Having mentioned purpose, it’s crucial for a company itself to have a clear vision and cause as well. Employees, stakeholders, and customers alike will look to what a company stands for, to determine if they want to be on board or not. In Deloitte Global’s 2019 Millennial Survey, it was found that for 36 percent of millennials and Gen Zs, their relationship with an organisation was dependent on its social issues engagement.

With inclusive design, you’ll be able to create products that provide its users with the best experience, as people feel heard and taken care of. This in turn garners long-lasting positive effects and more awareness towards this methodology. Doing good work appeals to many, which brings in a lot of support. Hopefully, this inspires others to push for positive impact in their own ways as well.

In total, there are 6 key principles to help achieve inclusive design:

6 key principles of inclusive design

Here's an infographic you can save to keep!

Seek out points of exclusion:

  1. Make a conscious effort to identify how people might get excluded. This deepens your understanding of scenarios where people might be put on the spot, as we often don’t even consider how these might affect us.
  1. Identify situational challenges:
    • Sometimes, people might face trouble doing things their usual way; these are circumstances that we should take into consideration too, so we can combat these issues, even if it’s temporary.
  2. Recognise personal biases:
    • We ourselves might have never been in compromising situations before. In that case, we’d be unable to grasp how much someone could be affected. If we can acknowledge that we have ingrained personal biases at times, we can work to uproot them and design with a better developed perspective.
  3. Offer other ways to engage (a product or service):
    • Provide alternatives to actions and choices whenever possible; users would be able to select what suits them best based on their situation at hand.
  4. Provide equivalent experiences:
    • Design such that users of all abilities can interact with the product or service on equal standing. By curating a process that’s enjoyable for everyone, no one is sidelined or given a second-rate experience.
  5. Extend the solution to everyone:
    • If you’re able to address the issue of one group with a feature, be sure to make it available to everyone else using it as well. You never know who else might find it helpful!