As designers and developers, it can often feel like we’re in a race to digitise every part of the world around us: mobility, banking, retail, government… even people’s social and romantic lives aren’t safe. We risk moving too fast, forgetting to consider the diverse needs of everyone who uses what we create. Not only does that exclude people from those services, it excludes them from society at large. Excluding people from a service poses an obvious ethical issue. It also poses a business issue - and potentially a legal one.

The responsibility is bigger than the individual

As individuals, it’s easy to understand the case for inclusive design. But as a business, it can be harder to make it a priority. Luckily, there’s a growing legal precedent and responsibility to make products and services accessible to all.One business that has recently come under fire for failing to cater for all their customers is Domino’s Pizza. They were successfully sued by Guillermo Robles, a blind man who was unable to use his screen reader to access the app and make an order.Robles’ attorney, Joe Manning, said in a statement that “the blind and visually impaired must have access to websites and apps to fully and equally participate in modern society - something nobody disputes,” he said. “This outcome furthers that critical objective for them, and is a credit to our society.”Changing laws and regulations mean that businesses need to invest more time ensuring their design is up to scratch.

Inclusive design is good for business too

We often hear the argument that a business doesn’t have the budget to invest in inclusive design. In fact, the numbers prove it’s an investment they need to consider.The ‘purple pound’ is a term used to describe the spending power of disabled people and their families. It’s valued at around a massive £212 billion in the UK.

  • £2 billion is lost every month by businesses ignoring the needs of disabled people.
  • 73% of potentially disabled customers face barriers on 1 in 4 of websites they visit.
  • 3 in 4 disabled people and their families have left a shop or business because of poor customer service.
  • 2 in 3 disabled people think that products and services are not developed with them in mind.

Stats from Extra Cost CommissionDesigning for a diverse range of needs doesn’t stop at people with a disability. There are many other reasons why someone might have difficulty using a product or service. For example, a form that forces you to conform to rigid, outdated defaults about race, sexuality or gender. Or a set of instructions filled with lengthy, jargon-filled text, difficult to decipher for someone with English as a second language.Inclusive design isn’t just about designing for people with different needs: it’s also about different perspectives.

"Inclusive Design is a methodology, born out of digital environments, that enables and draws on the full range of human diversity. This means including and learning from people with a range of perspectives."
Microsoft Inclusive Design

Businesses that listen to their customers’ needs and design truly inclusive products and services, will stand out from the competition for all the right reasons.

Welcome everyone into your process

At Idean we believe in inclusivity and inclusive design as a process. If someone can’t use a product or access a service because they are temporarily, situationally or permanently disabled, or because the way they identify doesn’t conform to outdated social ‘norms’, it’s the fault of bad business and lazy design.In a world of lean thinking and ‘move fast and break things’ mentalities, it’s a complicated agenda to push. But we’re trying to bring a new way of thinking into our projects at every opportunity and educate our clients as we go.We created Cards for Humanity as a practical tool to advocate inclusive design. Every pack includes two types of cards - ones which describe a user, ones which describe a diverse range of needs. These cards combine to set up a variety of scenarios to help test your product, service or user journey from a different perspective.Cards for Humanity can be used at many points during the design process, such as:

  • Bringing new perspectives to initial propositions
  • Testing service blueprints with various scenarios
  • Running workshops to expand thoughts around target user groups

Do you think you and your team could welcome some more diverse thinking into your work?As part of our research for Cards for Humanity, we’ve spoken to customers in a range of vulnerable situations. We’ve written checklists, user profiles and workshops to define our approach to inclusive design – and we’d love to share some of our thinking with you. Enter your email below and we’ll send it over.