How to build inclusive designs on our digital products

Photo by Yomex Owo on Unsplash

Inclusive designs are those that can be used by anyone, regardless of their abilities or condition. This is one of the main characteristics of UX itself: making products as useful and usable as possible for everyone.

The main point is that they must be accessible and everyone must be able to use them successfully, with as few obstacles as possible. We cannot assume that everyone will be able to handle a product with the same ease and confidence as others.

Inclusive design should be applied since the very first stages of the design of a new product, making it work for all users, rather than adapting it at the end of the process to the different groups that might need it.

When developing a truly accessible user experience, it is necessary to analyse the motivations, the context and how the user will interact with the product, taking into account that the physical, sensorial and cognitive abilities of the users may be very different.

The user persona technique can be used to create profiles of the target audience, but in addition, the empathy mapping technique can also be used to get a perfect understanding of the users. This resource allows you to know what a user says, does, hears, thinks and feels, understanding how the product can help solve the user’s fears and problems and what benefits they expect from it.

What needs to be taken into account to build an inclusive design?

Through research, we have been able to identify a number of characteristics that are fundamental to ensuring the inclusivity and accessibility of digital products. These include:

  • Product architecture and hierarchy. The product should be designed following a logical order of actions. This is of key importance because if a blind person uses a screen reader, the order of the elements is decisive for understanding the content. In addition, if a sighted person uses the application, the fact that things are ordered also greatly facilitates its usability.
  • Legibility. Font (the font itself and sizing) are very important elements for the text to be read comfortably and without unnecessary effort.
  • Colours. Contrast is a very important aspect of product design, as there may be many factors that prevent the colours from being perceived correctly, such as direct sunlight blocking the colours or the user being colour blind.
  • Titles, labels and shapes. It is very useful to use design elements to improve the flow of interactions, such as highlighting links to make them easier to identify. To make the product as user-friendly as possible, the interface should be obvious and easy to use.
  • Multimedia content interpretation. It is very important to add “alt” to images and captions to videos so that they can be recognised by assistive applications. Applications should be designed so that screen readers, voice controls, and dynamic display work properly.

The use of digital products and services must be democratised. Everyone has the right to be able to use digital products and there needs to be a change in mindset so that products are designed to be accessible since the very beginning of their process, rather than adapting later.

As user experience experts we have an obligation to make all products accessible and useful to as many users as possible, not leaving anyone behind.

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User Experience & User Research agency focused on services and digital products. Proud member of @UXalliance

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Torresburriel Estudio

Torresburriel Estudio

User Experience & User Research agency focused on services and digital products. Proud member of @UXalliance

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