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Why is inclusive design a big deal?

The purpose of inclusive design is clear-cut: “to make sure everyone who needs to access your service can use it”.

And while lockdown meant slowdown for most sectors, it massively accelerated demand for online services. From shopping to banking, communication to entertainment, COVID-19 has driven people to do more online.

As many commentators have pointed out, we’ve moved five years forward in a matter of months. But there are still millions of people who struggle to use digital products and services because the design process fails to understand their needs. In the UK, it is estimated that 10% of the population have dyslexia, 1 in 6 have the reading age of an 11-year-old and 6.6 million people suffer from dyspraxia, these challenges can lead to people struggling online. With an aging population it is predicted that just “7% of over 70’s are likely to have the capability to shop and manage their money online”.

In a world that’s becoming increasingly digitised, it is apparent that we’re not “all in this together”.

Covid-19 has driven people to do more online.

But how should businesses be tackling the issue?

Many brands remain blind to the potential, as not only does it display good corporate citizenship and comply with the UK Equality Act; but making such anticipatory service adjustments is a way for brands to seize competitive advantage. Moreover, it creates opportunity to unlock spending power from the digital excluded, estimated to be £11.75 billion in the UK alone.

Knowing where to begin can be difficult. Through our work with the digitally excluded we have developed a series of inclusive design principles to help teams become more inclusive, including:

Learn from diversity

People are experts in how they do things. Someone who lives with dyslexia may have a way of approaching a task that someone who hasn’t, may not have ever thought about. We need to design and learn from diverse experiences. As insights will open opportunities for innovation that produce better outcomes for everyone.

Engage and research widely

Inclusive design relies on including a wide range of people in your research, design and decision-making processes. You need to work with a diverse range of people to understand broad needs, behaviours and patterns. Everything you build should be designed, tested and enhanced with a wide range of people, often many times. The more excluded a group is, the harder they may be to reach and make part of your community. But effective inclusive design is dependent on their engagement.

We discussed more on the topic of inclusive design, in addition to the full set of inclusive design principles in our webinar ‘Why is Inclusive Design a Big Deal?’. Watch it below*.

*filmed when we were Engine Transformation.

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