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Posted On 23 Nov 2022
Venetia Hillary

Most programs, software, and services assume that the average customer is actually average. As humans, we know better. The next customer to log into your website or walk through your door could be a man or a woman, tall or short, pale or dark, athletic or unwell. There’s as good a chance they will be somewhere on the edge of the local bell-curve as there is that they’ll be in the centre.

There’s a good chance that the next person you talk to won’t necessarily celebrate the winter solstice with a tree and stockings. They might be colourblind, work the night shift, or be unable to metabolise milk. The average customer is almost never perfectly average, so why do designs assume that they are? Inclusive UI and UX design is sweeping the business and software world as personalisation and big-data has finally – mathematically – revealed that every single customer has at least one “not-average” thing about them.

What Is Inclusive UI & UX?

Inclusive UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) is a more inclusive way of approaching software design. Inclusivity takes into account every user who might not be the mathematical average. Corporations and their best practices have recently discovered what most of us have known all along – that most people don’t fit into a perfect mould.  Inclusivity acknowledges that not all users are medically-able Caucasians who work the 9-5 weekday shift. It’s including a spectrum of skin tones in default avatars and emojis. It’s letting your users pick their language and time zone. And it’s scheduling apps that don’t assume your breakfast is between 5 AM and 9 AM, and software that doesn’t assume you’ll be asleep for the 3 AM update.

Inclusive UI & UX strives to create software, programs, services, and user interfaces that naturally accommodate the ways that everyone is different without relying on core assumptions about identity, beliefs, culture, location, ability, or preferences.

Why Inclusive UI is Sweeping the Globe

Why are brands focusing on inclusive UI in a large sweeping trend?

The initial reason, however, is that the data has finally proven out. AIs and big data operations have made it possible for corporate decision-makers to see that the average user doesn’t exist. A user could do all the most average things, but then turn out to be left-handed or born in another country. A user could have your perfect average background, but then work the night shift, have a medical condition, or only buy cat posters on the full moon.

Big data reveals that every user has something “non-average” about them, and that the most optimal approach is to create systems that accommodate every personalising detail instead of operating on sweeping assumptions.

Secondly, there has been a massive positive response to inclusive design. From Slack’s skin tone selector to raise your hand, to Twitter’s new option to set your feed to more than one language, users are loving the feeling of being included. The positive response has created the trend momentum and many brands are now jumping onto the wave to gain some of that positivity for their own inclusive innovations. Which is great, because every brand is discovering new ways to be inclusive in the unique context of their services and tools.

Some of the Best Inclusive UI Examples

  • Twitter: Language Selection & Accessibility Options
    • Select multiple languages to appear on your feed without translation
    • Twitter has a great set of accessibility options for visually and motor impaired
  • Duo Lingo: Inclusive Phrases and “Teacher” Avatars
    • Inclusive conversational phrases to practice
    • Simple cartoon teacher avatars are extremely diverse
  • Noom: Schedule Accommodation
    • This scheduling app allows you to set your own day/night/meal times
  • Pinterest: Skin Tone Selection
    • Pinterest has a tool to filter makeup or outfit looks based on skin tones that match yours
  • Slack: Skin Tone Selection
    • Slack emojis like the hand-wave allow you to select your skin tone

How to Start Your Inclusive UI Design

Inclusive design is easy to get started. Simply look over your UI and UX to find anywhere an assumption has been made. From there, either remove the assumption or add the ability for users to select their own default settings. Makeup and fashion benefit from offering a skin tone selector to help customers match their unique complimentary shades. Any brand that deals in legal documents may want to expand the length and numeracy of legal names. You might swap gendered content for neutral content and start expanding your selection of available site translations.

Going inclusive can start small, or you can follow your team’s unique inspiration and become one of the cutting-edge innovators in this inspiring trend. For more on the exciting trend of inclusive design, contact us today.

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