Inclusive Design Is a Welcome Mat

Inclusive design is a design philosophy that embraces how diverse people are as designers, we shouldn’t assume that we know everything there is to know about people.

We should invite them to help us learn. We’re designing for a world that speaks many different languages and comes from many different backgrounds. People have different limitations on what they can easily see, understand and feel comfortable with. Practically speaking, our designs have to be accessible. When we say that a design is accessible, we mean that it can be used by people who have hearing visual, motor or cognitive impairments. We need to make sure that we remove the obstacles that prevent people from using what we built. But what if we were to create an even better experience? We can do more than just clear the path. We can lay out a welcome mat as a design community. We can offer an invitation that respects differences in physical ability. Further, we can welcome people regardless of gender, race, age, language and walk of life. What is inclusive design look like when designing interfaces allow people to describe themselves in their own terms? This can be as simple as turning a one choice only radio button into a select all that apply checkbox. Let people choose their own categories or choose not to describe themselves. When the system doesn’t need the information. Let people make sure that the system speaks their language. Allow users to correct the system’s assumptions when needed. Changing the way we design interfaces is progress towards being more inclusive. But there’s more we can do. We can redesign how we hire to welcome different perspectives. We can change our research process to really represent the world we live in.

Most importantly, we can create a design community that welcomes everyone who wants to be here.

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