Building inclusivity into your product design process

Author: Alice Hodges
Digital design agency discussing website performance and optimisation

From having a defined framework, to building the right culture, here are the 4 steps you can take to build more inclusive products or services.

(Insights taken from our Smart Cookies – Tech For All: Inclusion in Innovation event.)


1. It all starts with the people

Leadership

Leadership is key in creating the right mindset from the rest of the team.

  • Leaders need to embrace the idea of inclusion and set a standard across the organisation.
  • Leaders need to build strong relationships and empower their team, creating an environment where every member of the team can thrive.
  • Leaders need to prioritise inclusivity and be aware of underrepresented or marginalised groups in order to support change in the workplace.

Diversity

There must be diversity within the teams that are creating the product or service. Including diverse voices at the top and throughout the company is vital in building an environment that cultivates inclusive products.

If there is a lack of diversity and the right type of leadership within the team, you can assume there will be gaps!

2. Diversity of participation

Ask the question; Who will be interacting with the product or service, and who might feel excluded? It’s important to ask this question early on, and to research and evaluate how you can potentially expand your product or services diversity of participation.

Omitting to ask this questions can lead to some serious consequences, for example:

  • Automatic soap dispensers that only work for white hands.
  • Voice automated systems that don’t work for particular accents or the female voice.
  • Crash dummy testing being carried out on only the male form, resulting in serious injuries and even fatalities for women.

3. The correct innovation practices

Review your innovation practices. A great resource that can help support this is The Inclusive Innovation Playbook, a free essential guide to creating more inclusive digital products and services.

Diversity and inclusion needs to be considered at all stages of the process, from research and design, through to testing and delivery.

Workshops with a diverse group should be a key practice that all companies adopt in order to ensure inclusivity.

4. Take a human-centred approach

Ensure your users are part of the design process by observing the people using your product or service.

Don’t ever make assumptions! Be aware of the biases that you have and be prepared to keep learning.

A thoroughly thought out research process is needed, with inclusion and diversity at the forefront of this. 


These 4 steps are a starting point to begin evaluating how you can prioritise inclusivity. Don’t get overwhelmed, start small, with one tweak or change that you can make today to begin the process.

“The key message is if you’re not intentionally including, you’re unintentionally excluding.”

Marissa Ellis, Founder of Diversily

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